May 30, 2006

I suck.  I freely admit it.  Here it is the end of May and I'm just getting around to making an entry.  Something really should be done about me.

It was a good month though.  We started off with Baccalaureate and Commencement the first weekend of the month.  The band sounded quite good, and the Bryan Lake Death March was really not bad this year as temperatures and humidity were down a bit on Friday evening.  We also took some breaks between tunes as we led the graduating class out of Brown Chapel, across campus to Bryan Lake, and then around the lake so they could get into position to light their torches.  We need to ask Maintenance to put up some sort of light down there at the south end of the lake.  Somebody's going to trip in the dark down there one of these times and go right into the drink.  The remarkable Mr. Dean performed the Amazing Grace solo in the spotlight this year, and did a very nice job of it indeed.  In spite of the little kid who had followed us around getting over into the spotlight with him.  Kind of funny.  The fireworks went off on cue, and were quite good.

Tristen and I played a church service on Pentecost at a small Presbyterian church in Greeer's Ferry.  We then followed the minister back over to his place in Farifield Bay where he build a remarkable meditation garden near the lake, and by his gorgeous house designed by noted architect E. Fay Jones .

Most of the band departed for points elsewhere.  Cody back to OK, Vince to IL, and Neil to TX for a bit, though he's back in AR for now.  Young Dean took off for a couple of weeks in Japan sans bagpipe.  He's back, and reports that he missed being able to play.  We'll make up for that at practice this evening.  The Boehm twins, Dr. Dodd, Danny Vaughn, John Coates, Jimmy, and I have been holding practices as usual but only on Thursday nights.  Even Nancy managed a trip up from Baton Rouge for a practice session with Allyn, and some piping tips.  The trip to the Worlds had been cancelled, but was resurrected and now we will go back to two practices a week, just like usual.

Jimmy and I got the call to play with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  A new piece entitled Memorial Day was written by San Francisco composer Nolan Gasser and contains a specific pipe part.  We met with Nolan in Searcy on Thursday the 18th and went over what he wanted from the pipers.  Then we rehearsed with the symphony on the evening of the 25th.  We went back for another run through on Sunday afternoon, the 28th, and then did the premier performance of the piece that evening when the symphony performed at RiverFest ate the River Market complex in Little Rock.  I thought it went very well.  The piece was introduced by General Wes Clark and was quite a tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of our country.  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette online had this to say about our bit:

"Gasser's setting of Jones' poem focuses dramatically on a mother grieving at the funeral of her fallen soldier son, which Gasser represents with trumpet flourishes, snare rolls, the slow playing of "taps" and the pair of pipers playing a moving, catchy theme that was one of the piece's finest moments".

The Jones referred to is poet Robert Trent Jones Jr., also known for designing a golf course or two.  We always meet the most interesting people when we pipe.

For the band,