My life has been spent in music, especially as a Mormon music maker. As a teenager I honed my skills as a pianist and discovered choirs at church. In the years since then I have received a doctorate in composition, sung in some prestigious choirs, had a TV broadcast of an anthem by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, composed game music (credited on 40 published games so far), classical concertos, a musical, piano solos, orchestral lieder, pop songs and hymns: most notably the collection of 55 of my settings of Orson Scott Card hymns which was published in 2014. I know of choirs in Canada, Australia, England, Europe and of course all over the U.S. who have sung those hymns and other arrangements in church meetings. The internet has changed my life.
The church has also provided me many wonderful opportunities to develop and share my talents. I have learned to conduct – not only choirs, but for the past three years a 30-piece orchestra for an annual Stake Broadway revue evening. I have written musicals and incidental music for plays. I have had the best seats at Stake and Regional Conferences and temple dedications (I sat almost knee to knee with Presidents Monson and Hinckley at the Montreal dedication). I have had memorable public performances and learned to arrange for amateur choirs and instrumental groups. My point is, the church and church music have had a huge role in forming me into the musician I am now at 54, and I am eternally grateful.
What will appear in this blog? I have ideas for articles on hymns as music, on the history of hymns, on the role of music in worship, on the role of music in our spiritual lives, on the techniques of hymn writing and arranging, reviews of others’ hymns and arrangements, and reviews of music resources of all kinds for the Latter-day Saint musician. Not everyone will agree with what I say, and I’m not an academic expert in history or musicology (although fairly well read), but I finally feel like I have earned the right to speak with some authority, or at least with some practical experience. I hope there will be some dialogue. That would be fun and useful I think. I hope my testimony will shine through behind it all.