12.07.2014

Reader

So tomorrow I will become a reader. Vladika Irenee will tonsure me. I have been orthodox since 2005, so I suppose it's time. I like reading in the church. And I got a cassock. Long after I thought it would be a 'cool' thing to do, so I guess that's good.
Life in Fernie is interesting. We are waiting to find out if/when the next step happens, which has to do with working in Cranbrook, and perhaps living in Kimberley. We would be closer to our church, so that would be good. I would miss a number of people here who I have become good friends with, but Fernie is not affordable for a teacher, so we go to cranbrook/kimberley area, which is on sale. I miss a lot of people in the lower mainland, I miss the influence of constant church, the monks, etc. I love the kootenays though. I got two deer again this year, which is great. I even put a road killed doe in the freezer, so we have lots of meat. The kids like it here too, it's good. I have been biking to work in the snow, and it's not too bad. The short commute is awesome. 

4.24.2014

John Trepp is not here.

I am in banff, at the music festival that impacted my life quite strongly. My choir teacher, John Trepp, co-founded the festival, and it is specifically non-competitive which I find to be really beneficial for students, both myself as a young person, and so far the students are enjoying it and I think will be able to learn without worrying who is better than who. It's not about winning, it's about learning from each other.
The last time I was here, John and I had a great chat until late in the night. Such a good memory.
Tonight I started talking about him to one of the festival staff and it was hard to keep it together. There is a memorial for him here on saturday, and some of his friends are gathering to remember his contributions to this festival and to music education in general.

For those who know me, they know that Fr. Gregory Papazian has had a huge impact on my life through a straight up approach, a desire for truth. I don't know if I would have been as ready to hear truth in that way had I not been through the process of growth in my high school choir. John demanded hard work and always nothing but our best and a commitment to truth, in both expressing music and communicating with each other. The vulnerability we were able to share through trusting each other because of this truth was profound. Something I haven't experienced since, except at the monastery.

It's hard to be here, at his festival, without him.

4.03.2014

Hearing God's Voice. (shudder)

I left a church that was obsessed with hearing God speak directly to individuals. I ran from it. trying to puke out the bad theology that I had ingested. The theology must have been bad because the number of people who were charlatans and magicians was staggering. They were fooling themselves, and tried to fool me. They were praying for God's spirit of revival and instead of seeking truth, they wanted hype. But I think they had been led astray...I don't know why they got ahold of a mic in front of a 'church' anyway. But they tried to push us over, literally-physically, so that it would seem that God had done it. So it would seem God had spoken to us, given us a word.
Call me arrogant, but I think I know what God wants and I haven't done a single percent of it correctly. I have read the part in the bible about loving the poor, the widows and the orphans. The needy. The least of these. We don't do it, we are failing miserably. I don't anyway. I am a teacher, and I try to care for my students in an appropriate and holistic way, and I try to do my job well and love my family fully. But when God has given us a) the Bible, b) the saints and church fathers and c) a truckload of wise people who have written books and given sermons and chatted to us personally, why would I dare to ask the creator of the universe to communicate anything directly to me? I would rather hide behind (inside?) the wall of the eucharist, embrace with gratitude the good things God has given me and try to express through a lifetime of slowly turning toward God (cause God knows I am too busy skiing and hunting and biking with the kids to think deeply or meditate on these issues and pray seriously) that I am sorry I haven't lived up to the fullness of human goodness capable with His spirit, and that I really am grateful, and not a spoiled child who can't turn off his phone. Or at least I am trying to go that direction. I hope.
But please, don't speak to me, I don't know that I could handle it, or if I would even be able to believe it. Too many of us have turned that moment into pornography. Something intimate for everyone to see.

3.20.2014

BCTF AGM

I recently attended the BCTF AGM. It was amazing. I learned so much. The politics were kind of enthralling. There is such a divide, people who on the one hand, want to stop increasing fees and cut services, and on the other hand who don't mind fees and don't want to cut services. Now, I am a capitalist, I like free enterprise, and I think if we had smaller government that would not be bad. But, in the context of teaching, I think we need a strong union. The BC government is doing its darndest to destroy public education in favour of private schools. Private education is fine, to an extent, but if we destroy public education, we will be hurting ourselves as a province quite badly. The weakest members of our areas will be the ones to suffer, and when the strongest, loudest ones are the only ones speaking about it and the weakest ones are voiceless, it isn't equitable, it's not democratic. If the government were treating teachers well, we wouldn't need such a strong union, but the government is always trying to save money on the backs of teachers and students. (Aside, there is no possible way to separate the experience of teachers and students in the school system)


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In other news, John Trepp's memorial is may 3rd. Our community choir is going well. We are visiting old friends tomorrow. Life is better than I deserve. I took Z skiing today, only on the small hill, but it was still pretty cool. Then we went swimming. busy day. good times. I am enjoying my small part in the union. It's a good learning experience.

3.07.2014

John Trepp, Memory Eternal.

My high school choir teacher died two nights ago. I am a music teacher because of him. Don't get me wrong, my parents are my biggest and best influences, but aside from them, John Trepp made me who I am today. He was the first person outside my family to give me serious discipline, expect serious commitment and kick my ass when I needed it. It was because of him that I immediately loved orthodoxy. I loved the monks at Gibsons because I had tasted the discipline that they lived when I was in choir. I loved the no BS attitude of Fr. Lawrence because I first had it in my high school choir. This man was an agent of God, and had a faith and an ability to draw us in to his desire for excellence that I have encountered rarely. He wasn't the best technically that I have worked with, but his emotional engagement was so high that we wanted nothing more than to be excellent, to serve the music. Tomas Luis De Victoria and Palestrina are alive inside me because of him. Bach's little Organ Fugue BWV 578 is constantly with me, not only because of him, but partly. That's actually a good story.

As a young boy, my dad would play Jacques Loussier's Jazzy recording of BWV 578 often. I loved it. It is still arguably my favourite piece ever. ever. well, that and TL de Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium. Both will accompany this post. But I learned of BWV 578 from my dad, but then in grade 12 we sang the 8 part vocal version that I will post here. And to sing it is to know it. It is my goal to get my choir to sing it one day. It is so simple and complex, so beautiful and mathematical. So contradictory. We did it, in high school. What an experience. We sang Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium. O great mystery that the saviour of the world was born among animals. Words can't express the beauty of these experiences. like orthodoxy, you had to be there, or you have to taste and see. Which is why I am a choir/band/music teacher, because you have to be in the middle of it to get it. Because of this man, John Trepp, I got it, and I get it. I hope I can give my students even half of that experience.

Memory Eternal John, may flights of angels sing you to your rest. Your memory will be eternal through me and my students.


 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L87ixPXviFg this is the Victoria O Magnum


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L87ixPXviFg This is the Bach BWV 578.