Archive for the ‘Oysterville Summer Music Vespers’ Category

Were you listening, Mom?

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Randal Bays

It’s usually (no, make that always) Tucker who brings something for “Show and Tell” on Friday nights.  Yesterday was no exception and I will be telling about it with enthusiasm – but maybe not until tomorrow.  Last night, in addition to Tucker’s contribution to the evening, Randal treated us to a different spin on the usual sharing.  It was, appropriately, “Hear and Tell.”

Mom Waltzing With Roger at her 95th Birthday Celebration

The Bays Family – Randal, Susan, Willie, and Owen – arrived yesterday afternoon, well ahead of tomorrow’s Vesper gig and in plenty of time to enjoy the beach and all the quirks of Oysterville that they have come to know after an accumulated 88 years of visiting here!  They especially wanted to be here last night to renew old acquaintances and meet whoever else might show up.

General Nyel and The Cannon

 

About halfway through the evening, Randal disappeared for a few minutes and came back with his fiddle and an old notebook.  He said that he had awakened about 4:30 that morning and, as he sometimes does, was thumbing through some old tunes he had written.  He came across one called “Mrs. Little’s Waltz,” written for my mother back in the ’80s or ’90s.  “I played it for her then,” Randal said, “but I don’t think she much liked it.  She didn’t say anything about it … just got up and poured herself another drink, I think.” The tune was charming – sprightly like Mom, herself.  I can’t imagine that she didn’t like it and I hope she was listening from on high last night!

“Lady Sydney” and Nyel, Oysterville Sesquicentennial

But… as if that wasn’t enough, Randal went on to play two new tunes – “Nyel, the Cannoneer” (a jig) and “The Lady Sydney” (a reel).  Both Nyel and I were blown away.  But, I don’t know if we conveyed our appreciation and admiration vociferously enough.  I hope so.  And, I hope he doesn’t tell another audience, later, that we didn’t like them. One thing in our favor… neither of us got up to pour ourselves a drink!

I’m hoping he might play those three tunes at Vespers tomorrow – just for fun!  I think I’ll suggest it…

The important thing about Vespers is…

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

By Margaret Wise Brown

I used to read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown to my first/second/third graders and then we would create our own “important’ book.  It was a language arts activity we all loved and it was loaded with learning opportunities.  In case you don’t know that book, here is an example of one of its pages:  The important thing about grass is that it is green.  It grows, and is tender with a sweet grassy smell.  But the important thing about grass is that it is green.

Of course, what each of us thinks is important about a particular thing varies and therein lies the possibilities for all sorts of discussion.  For instance, Nyel might say “The important thing about grass is it needs to be mowed.  It can be a lawn and it can be soft to walk on.  But the important thing about grass is it needs to be mowed.”  Well… you get the idea.

Yesterday at Vespers as I listened to retired Episcopal priest Irene Martin talk about Canada Day, it suddenly struck me that one of the ‘important’ things about Vespers is that the officiant’s message is often ‘the best of the best.’  Usually, it’s a one-time opportunity for the minister – one voluntary twenty-minute service out of the summer – a chance to make an important point with no danger of the repetitiveness that must threaten to creep in to those Sunday-after-Sunday sermons given to their own congregations.  (Note to self:  ask one of the visiting pastors if that seems true from their point of view.)

Church and Steeple

The Rev. Irene talked about Canada Day.  I’d wager that most of us listeners were probably unaware that Canada celebrates its birthday just three days prior to our own Independence Day.  But then, Irene Martin was born in Canada…  She talked specifically about the border our two countries share – 3,987 miles of it!  It’s the longest undefended border in the world and she pointed out what a marvelous and important achievement keeping it that way has been for both countries.

It wasn’t a political message.  She pointed that out at the get-go.  But, I’m sure there wasn’t a listener among us who didn’t think about the possibility of political pressures that could be brought to bear on that long expanse if we do not stay ever-vigilant.  It was a topic we may not have had the opportunity to consider, had Irene Martin’s Vesper date been different, or had she not be born in Canada, or had borders not been a world-wide topic lately.

‘The important thing about Oysterville Vespers is each Sunday’s unique message.’ That would be the first page in my book.  What about you?

Today is Market Day in Astoria! Oh Boy?

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

For the last forty-plus years, my summer Sundays have been pretty much focused on Vespers, and participation in other functions have had to work around those three o’clock church services. Astoria’s Sunday Market is one of the events we think about longingly each year – but, actually, I’m not sure why.  When we have managed to go, we are usually disappointed.  However, we keep trying.  We are ever hopeful.

Since Vespers doesn’t begin until next week, we’ve decided to head for Astoria today and give the Market another go.  In an effort to stave off the chance (yet again) for negative feelings, we’ve tried to analyze what our “problem” is.   (We are quite sure the problem is ours and not inherent in the Market, itself.  Everyone else we know has positive things to say.  It must be just us.)

Perhaps it’s that we’ve gone too early in the past.  Typically, it opens on Mother’s Day in mid-May, but we’ve found limited produce at that time of year and that’s always our main interest in going.  Or perhaps therein lies our problem – other vendors outnumber the produce vendors by far.  In fact, according to their current website:

Campo de Fiori, Rome

Astoria Sunday Market began in 2000 and now covers four city blocks adjacent to east and westbound US Highway 30, with over 200 vendors on a typical Sunday… features up to 200 vendors each week offering locally-made products that have been hand-crafted, grown, created or gathered by the farmers, craftspeople and artisans featured each week.

I think we might be stuck in an old-fashioned concept of what a market should be based on the many street markets we’ve gone to in Europe – and not that recently, either.  Perhaps things have changed there, too.  But it used to be (in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s of the last century) that “markets” featuring fruits, vegetables, other edibles — often on certain days in particular neighborhoods – were different from “flea markets” or where you might find everything from authentic European antiques to fake watches, from classical furniture to the latest sneakers.

I am reminded that my mother always made a distinction between “marketing” and “shopping.”  She never, for instance, went “shopping” at the grocery store.  A trip to Jack’s Country Store to replenish the larder was “going to do a little marketing.”  A shopping trip usually meant clothes-buying of some sort.  I don’t remember my mother and father ever going to a thrift store or a junque shoppe.  Maybe to an antique shop once in a while.

Waterloo Flea Market

So… this morning as we thought about our day’s adventure in Astoria, we tried to adjust our expectations.  We are at the stage in life where we don’t need (or want) a single additional craft or piece of jewelry or art or kitchen gewgaw.  Our motto has been “if we can’t eat it or wear it, we don’t need it” – and the wearing part is pretty iffy, too.  So… if it’s not yet too early in the growing season, we are hoping to come home with some fresh produce and maybe a loaf or two of crusty bread.  We’ll just enjoy looking at the rest.  Unless it keeps raining.  Then, all bets are off.

Heavenly Voices

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

It’s pretty much one of those died-and-went-to-heaven things when you can walk right across the street and hear fabulous music.  That happens to be the situation for me every single Sunday of the summer from Father’s Day to Labor Day weekend.  Those twelve weeks for the last forty-some years have marked the Oysterville Music Vespers Season – one of the year’s highlights as I see it.

Tomorrow will be the next-to-last vesper programs for this summer and the featured guest artists happen to be my all-time favorite a cappella group.  Ever.  The Rose City Mixed Quartet (RCMQ) from Portland, Oregon will be making their musical magic right here in Greater Downtown Oysterville!  It’s not every village of fourteen residents who can call themselves so blessed.

Cameron Herbert (soprano), Helen Dietz (alto), Dale Webber (tenor) and Mark Petersen (bass) are all members of the Portland Symphonic Choir.  They joined forces as the RCMQ in the early 90s (though Mark and Dale were part of the original foursome who began back in the 1980s) and have toured and traveled together here in the United States as well as in Europe. Beyond their professional relationship, they are good friends and, two of them are grandparents together.  Visiting with them is always a treat and always educational in unexpected ways.

Last night, for instance, the discussion included ‘octopus testicles’ (don’t ask!) as well as tonight being the Night of the Ancient Lights along the Baltic Coast and tips on remembering the lyrics to a gazillion songs. (“Use a music stand and have the words right in front of you,” says Helen.)  This Vespers Weekend has been planned for a long time and includes being here today for the Oysterville Regatta and attendant festivities.  They arrived yesterday afternoon, laden with food and megahugs, both liberally dispersed!

We feel quadruple-ly blessed that they we are here with them this weekend. When it looked like Nyel (and I, by default) might still be at Emanuel Hospital, I had written them saying come for the weekend as planned – our house is your house, etc.  They have stayed here many times, know where everything is and even are acquainted with our ‘usual’ Friday Nighters.  They came prepared to host our friends in our stead and so, as it turned out, we had very light duty indeed.

I hope all their local fans took note of the announcement in the Observer and will be at Vespers tomorrow.  I haven’t asked about their program and I know it will be fabulous, no matter what.  Secretly, though, I hope that it will include “Tis a Gift to Be Simple.”  Their arrangement is heavenly and is my all-time-favorite.

A Nine-Minute Drive; A One-Minute Walk

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Anja Patten Sings”The Telephone” Aria by Gian Carlo Menotti

There’s nothing like a hug to make the world feel a little more do-able.  I seem to get lots of them these days – one of the perks of being a little old lady, no doubt.  And, I’ve come to realize, a good hug is not the only kind of heart-warming embrace that I’m fortunate enough to receive on a regular basis.  Music is another!  How lucky we are here on the Peninsula to have access to so many musical opportunities.

Barbara Poulshock, A Cate Gable Photograph

Yesterday I drove nine minutes from here to the Lutheran Church on ‘U’ Street to a “Musical Afternoon” performance by Barbara Poulshock and Anja Patten.  Barbara (at 90) is considered a Peninsula Treasure.  She has had a full life as a pianist, composer, and teacher of voice and piano, and, despite occasional lip-service to “slowing down” shows no sign of doing so.  Anja, a recent graduate of Whitworth University, is at the other end of things – soon to begin graduate school and then to launch her career in… social work!

Or, at least, that is this magnificent young soprano’s plan.  At the reception following the program, more than one person remarked, “But she could reach far more people with that gorgeous voice than she could through social work…”  Anja smiled through the compliments and well-meant musical encouragement.  Barbara also smiled with a teacher’s ‘time will tell’ kind of patience and a lifetime of knowing that each of us must follow our passion, no matter how it seems to observers.

Tom Trudell

Today, a one-minute (or less) walk will take me across the street to the Oysterville Church where two more local musicians will be playing at Vespers this afternoon.  Pianist Tom Trudell and vocalist/guitar-player Brian O’Connor will share center stage for the music portion of today’s service.  Both men are familiar figures in our local music scene.  Each of them mostly heard in solo performances – often as ‘regulars’ at venues on either side of the river.

Brian O’Connor

Tom and Brian are old-hands at Vespers.  Their performances are always so relaxed – laid back to the max – that I am left feeling that their selections were chosen with me, personally, in mind.  I have no doubt that every single audience member feels the same way and will leave the church this afternoon believing that they have had a Sunday hug times two!

Watching Willie Live in Real Time from NYC

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Willie Bays, Front and Center, at Dizzy Coca Cola Club, NYC – Laptop View

Yesterday afternoon and into the early evening, this old house experienced a First Ever! Never before, in all its 148 years, have the walls reverberated nor the windows shimmered with a real-time jazz performance taking place at Lincoln Center, New York City, and with a “grandchild” featured front and center!

Well… an ‘honorary’ grandchild.  Willie Bays first visited this house before he was born.  He learned to crawl on the library carpet here.  He practiced riding his first two-wheeler just outside.  He has been here for a family vacation for most of his sixteen summers. Granted, for Willie (as for his parents and younger brother Owen) his summertime visits are mostly ‘working vacations’.  There is always a Vespers performance by the Bays Family Irish Band worked into the mix of beach visits, egg collecting, conversations around the dining room table, and endless hours ‘just fooling around’ at our old upright piano.

Flashback: Bays Family Irish Band, September 2016

While the rest of his family carried on their annual Vespers tradition yesterday, Willie was 3,000 miles away having the time of his young life.  As the youngest member of the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, Willie was on tour with twenty of his peers, ages 16-18.  All are jazz musicians of note and were chosen as a result of nation-wide auditions to be part of this stellar group.  And, as serendipitous as it seems, their Sunday evening performance was to stream live over the net at 4:30 p.m. our time – a convenient half hour after Vespers.

We gathered around our laptops.  (There isn’t enough oomph or whatever it is for us to stream live through our TV – not Netflix, not even Willie.)  Never mind.  We saw and heard him loud and clear.  We cheered and clapped for his solos – both flute and alto sax – and cringed when the band director introduced him as “Willie Bay”  (think of Willie Mays and change the M to B Randal emailed him later). Parents Randal and Susan glowed with parental pride; Owen watched every nuance with a younger brother’s critical eye.

Susan Waters and Randal Bays, Proud Parents

As for us old ducks – we had a righteous taste of ‘grandparently’ delight and the very satisfactory feeling of seeing our young friend Willie ‘on his way.’  And this old house?  It’s taken in stride many transitions – from fireplace to heat pump; from wood cook stove to dual-fuel electric/gas range; from pitcher pumps to running water; from crystal sets to television.  And now – streaming live over the internet!  Wow!  I can almost feel it shake its chimneys in amazement!

A Saturday in 2/4 Time!

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Helen and Cameron

All of a sudden, yesterday became doubly brighter – despite the rain!  Cameron Griffith (soprano) and Helen Dietz (alto), two members of our all-time-favorite quartette, came calling.  They were in Astoria for last night’s performance by the Portland Symphonic Choir at the Liberty Theater.

The night before Cameron had written:  I know this is short notice but Helen and I are singing in Astoria for the music festival. We must be there by 11:00 am for rehearsal and the performance isn’t until 7:30 and we are on the second half. Could we come for a visit and a rest?

All Four

You bet!  We were so pleased they put us in their busy loop!  Usually (but not always) we see Helen and Cameron as two of the four Rose City Mixed Quartet.  The group has been coming to Oysterville since 2007 – usually each year, either for a House Concert or to perform at Vespers or, once, for the funeral of our neighbor Carol Nordquist.  On those occasions, of course, Mark Peterson (bass) plus Dale Weber (tenor) make four!

We first met (actually it was a ‘pick-up’) outside the (of all places!) Liberty Theater back in 2005.  We were among a group huddled outside in the rain waiting for the theater to open when the four of them stepped up and began to sing!  Afterwards, I approached them and asked, “Do you ever do House Concerts?  Would you consider coming to Oysterville?”  And the rest is history…so to speak.

Enroute to Oysterville, 2016

We’ve ‘entertained’ them separately in Oysterville; they have more than reciprocated in Portland.  One or more or all of the four have ferried us to the airport, provided overnight accommodations, serenaded Nyel at the hospital, invited us to birthday celebrations and on and on.  Yesterday’s visit by the two distaff members of the group was an unexpected delight!

The entire group will be here in August on “Regatta Weekend” when they will be the music part of our Oysterville Music Vespers!  But… maybe we’ll see them individually or severally between now and then.  You never know with the RCMQ!

Two Barbaras, One Larry and…

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Barbara Poulshock- Cate Gable Photo

…a new roof in progress!  All that and more (as they say) at this Sunday’s Music Vespers service at the Oysterville Church!  As always, Father’s Day marks the first of the twelve summer vesper programs at the historic church.  In addition, it will herald the beginning of our fortieth vesper season here in Oysterville!

Forty years!  “Quite a many!” as my mother, Dale Espy Little, would have said.  I wonder if she realized, when she and dad first conceived the vespers idea, that those services would become synonymous with summer Sunday afternoons in the village.

Dr. Barbara Bate – Sydney Stevens Photo

That vespers keep the ecumenical use of the church alive; that vespers would bring in a good portion of the money needed to maintain the old building; that musicians and audiences would be overjoyed at the acoustics in the little structure – all these things were what mom and dad hoped for.  They would be so pleased that their vision has continued all this time.

I think they would also be pleased about the new roof in progress.  Never mind that it probably won’t be completed by Sunday!  Just the fact that the Oysterville Restoration Foundation was awarded a $15,000 grant by the Kinsman Foundation of Oregon would delight them.  And I have no doubt that they would already be planning a fundraiser to make up for the $5,000 shortfall that seems likely!

Larry Freshley, c. 1951

Meanwhile, I know for a fact that Sunday’s ‘headliners’ – composer and renowned piano and voice teacher Barbara Poulshock, interdenominational minister, author and pianist Barbara Bate, and Oysterville School alumnus Larry Freshley – would more than “fill the bill” for the opening service in the eyes of my folks. And, they would heartily approve of the mysterious (yet, for Barbara Poulshock ‘traditional’) program note, “Barbara and Friends,” that tempts speculation right up until the service begins.

Roof Progress as of 6/11/17

Most of all, how pleased they would be that the entire vespers idea and its yearly planning has taken on a life of its own.  This marks year three that Carol Wachsmuth (bless her!) is doing all the scheduling.  The Espy family is finally out of the church loop – “as God intended” say I!  Vespers at the beginning of its 40th year has definitely come of age.  It has taken a village… and will continue to do so!   On behalf of R.H. Espy — who had the church built back in 1892 — and on behalf of all his descendants who kept it going, I for one couldn’t be happier!

Seventy-Plus at the Seventy-Fifth and… that’s not all!

Monday, September 5th, 2016
"IECHEYD DA!"

“IECHEYD DA!”

In most parts of the world (or at least the United States), yesterday was Labor Day Sunday.  But here on the Peninsula it was the Williams Clan Annual Picnic – the 75th to occur (as far as is known) every Labor Day Weekend Sunday since 1941!  That’s quite-a-many!

And, too, there were quite-a-many in attendance at this year’s location, the Tim Williams residence in Ocean Park!  “More than 70” said hostess Marni Williams.  “I’m not sure it’s an accurate count because they wouldn’t stop moving!”  Especially the little kids and there was a raft of them!  “Enough to ensure seventy five more years of reunions,” remarked Clan Elder, Mike Williams.

Clan Elder Mike Williams

Clan Elder Mike Williams

Though Mike wore a cap announcing his “Clan Elder” status and took on the role of emcee, he paid homage to the two absentee older elders –his brother Tom (at 90 ½) and his cousin Warner (at 96).  “They probably won’t be making it to future reunions either,” Mike said, “so it’s up to Kris (Kristina Williams Jones) and me” — both young whipper-snappers in their mid-seventies.  Kuzzin Kris joined him, front and center, to lead the crowd in singing “God Bless America” and a few other old Williams’ favorites.

At that point Nyel and I had to beat feet back to Oysterville for the final Music Vespers Service of the year.  We were in time to get a seat in the quickly filling church.  Starla and Cate Gable drew a standing-room-only crowd – a crowd who expressed their appreciation with generous contributions to the collection baskets.  The Oysterville Restoration Treasurer later reported that the amount topped all other vesper services as far back as remembered!  Wow!

Starla and Cate Gable

Starla and Cate Gable

And what a memorable service it was!  There were the sweet harmonies of the Gable sisters, sing-alongs and audience responses to the musical question “What would you do if you were brave.”  Pastor DeWayne LaPointe spoke about the peace he feels when he just “sets a while” in the old Oysterville church and suggested that we all take time now and then to do the same.  Tucker told about last week’s Great Scavenger Hunt and how his favorite Oysterville Moment is that vision of a string of kids running gleefully down Territory Road in search of the next clue!

The day left us feeling totally contented with just the right mix of nostalgia and anticipation.  From family reunions to gatherings at the Oysterville Church, the sweetest things of life are family and friends.  We feel blessed to have shared yesterday with plenty of both and look forward to many more to come.

The Heavenly Ladies of Lyrica

Sunday, August 28th, 2016
Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Pugent Sound - Oysterville 2014

Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Pugent Sound – Oysterville 2014

In July 2011, I wrote: The Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Puget Sound will sing at the Oysterville Music Vespers service Sunday, July 17, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. …
According to Lyrica’s director, LeeAnne Campos, the group has been together for ten years and has performed in Oysterville “seven or eight times.”
Based in Tacoma, the group’s connection to the peninsula can be traced back to LeeAnne’s student days at Pacific Lutheran University when she studied voice with local pianist/composer Barbara Poulshock who was then part of the voice faculty at PLU.  

Change the dates and numbers a bit and I could write the same thing today.  Vespers on this August afternoon features the Lyrica Ladies!  I don’t think they have missed a single summer at the Oysterville Music Vespers in all the years since 2011 which puts them well into the double digit category of Vespers participation.

Inside the Oysterville Church

Inside the Oysterville Church

Over the years, the Ensemble has increased in numbers to the point that the dais in the little Oysterville Church can no longer accommodate them.  A few years ago LeeAnne told me that she had considered just having a part of the group sing – much like our local Bayside Singers have had to do.  “But,” LeeAnne said later, “all of the ladies wanted to be included; none wanted to stay behind.”

So they found another way to distribute themselves in the little church so they could all participate in making their marvelous music.  They lined themselves up in the aisles and sang from there, giving the audience a ‘surround sound’ experience.  Wow!  Talk about feeling like you’d  ‘died and gone to heaven’!

I’m not sure what their plan is today but, no matter what, the music will be exactly perfect for in its historic setting – a choir of angels right here in Oysterville.  Officiating at the service will be Pastor Tom Elkins of the Ocean Park Methodist Church.  Sandra Nielsen will play the organ and, for the only time this summer, the ‘Oysterville Moment” will be mine.  See you there!