I tell people that I’ve spent my entire life in Los Angeles. Born and Raised: The Few, The Proud. And, it’s almost entirely true. Almost.
When I was in college many moons ago, I had the opportunity to study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. For my junior year I spent my days and nights shivering inside three layers of clothing and an electric blanket. Evidently thin SoCal blood and frigid North Sea winds are not a good match. When you’re 21, some things just have to be learned the hard way.
I do remember, however, the very first day that I arrived at the school. It was raining, with a sharp wind off the Firth of Forth cutting through my down coat like a frozen diamond sword. I was assigned a random, featureless government-owned concrete box of an apartment in an area of Edinburgh called The Pleasance. Only the Scots could look at this scene and consider it “pleasant!”
While that first day (and even the first many days, to be truthful) was bordering on miserable, it was also something special. I’d already had fifteen “first day of school” moments in my life up to that point, but this one was different. Yes, it was colder. Yes, it was wetter. No, it wasn’t anything like I had ever done before. It was exciting. Here I was, all by myself, with no preset course before me, in the capital of Scotland. This was a grand adventure in place for which poets swoon and golfers yearn. History surrounded me at every turn. Danger lurked on every curb if I failed to look right before crossing the street. There was so much to see. So much to know. So much to learn. For every degree that my body temperature fell, my adrenaline level rose doubly.
The new church choir “season” is very much like a new year at school. You go to the first rehearsal and see a group of people that you’ve known for a long time. Some new faces appear, and you get to know them, too. You all do things together and learn from each other. Then, at the end of that year, you look back and admire the adventure that you all shared together.
Of course, what marks every choir year is the music that you sing. Every choir has those tried and true evergreens that are sung every year, like Tom Fettke’s Majesty and Glory of Your Name or Thomas Matthews’ The Lord Is My Shepherd or John Rutter’s For The Beauty of the Earth. However, it’s usually the new titles that cause the most excitement for everyone. Which new anthem will be The One this year – the stand-out piece that makes everyone’s adrenaline rise when they get to sing it?
For me, this year, that piece is Carol of the Wind by David Rasbach. Like most people, I’m a sucker for a great Christmas piece – and this one got me this year. I love it. So sweet. So elegant. It’s so wonderful, it almost makes me forget that slicing wind from Edinburgh all those years ago. Take a listen. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Carol of the Wind – David Rasbach HMC2507 HL# 00233909
President, Fred Bock Music Company
PS: My good friend, Joe Martin, was recently in Scotland. I told him about my apartment when I lived there. And, because he had nothing else to do with two buses full of singers on a Journeys With Joe tour, he actually went and found the place. I can just imagine the announcement to all the tour members: “I know your itinerary says that we’re going to see Edinburgh Castle today, but we have something very special for you instead: Steve Bock’s old apartment?” What a moron!!!
And then, to double down on his insanity, he sent me pictures to prove that he was there: