Am I boring you? Try “The View” in B&W. 〜 ブログがつまらなくなったか?白黒は?

“The View” is no longer a young blog.  It was started eleven years ago in a fit of enthusiasm for what was then a fairly new form of communication.  Somehow, and with many gaps, your sometimes faithful editor has managed to continue for over a decade.  But one begins to wonder, hasn’t it all gotten a bit dull for the reader?  Does it consist of nothing more than a yearly cycle of concert announcements, accounts of bike rides, and too many photos?


“Successful” blogs, the writers tell us, should focus on a single topic.  They should provide the reader with useful information.  Perhaps a bit of soul-baring and juicy private information.  Rants on topics political and religious might not be amiss.  What does the reader think?   Is it time for a course correction?


Your editor, of course, is over 39, and therefore, part of a generation where privacy was a valued commodity.  One simply didn’t do a daily tell-all a la Facebook.  Those wishing to publicize their private lives either had to become famous and let the press do it for them, or bother their closest friends with daily phone calls.  I would love to tell you my innermost thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.  Can’t you imagine a post titled “soulful confessions of a suffering of a middle-aged choirmaster?” Imagine the tremendous social upheaval it would cause!  Seriously, though, I think it is be too late for me to try and titillate the reader with exciting personal info.  I’d have to make it up, in any case.  So, the conclusion is that “The View” will continue on as usual, but will attempt to add some spice and variety when appropriate.  Today’s spice and variety?  Black and white photos.  How’s that for something new and exciting here at the “View?”


TOKYO BLACK AND WHITE (by topic, click to enlarge) 東京白黒(トプック別、クリックすれば拡大します)

1. Cycling  〜 サイクリング・自転者

2. People  〜 人間

3. Nostalgia  〜 ノスタルジア

4. Signs  〜 看板

5. Wind and winter skies  〜 風と冬の空

Posted in Photography ~写真, Tokyo ~ 東京 | 6 Comments

Music and cycling, cycling and music 〜 音楽とサイクリング、サイクリングと音楽

Well, there really isn’t much other in life than music and cycling, is there?  I suppose a bit of worry about the crazy man in Washington DC does creep in now and then.  But I try to stay focused on the important things in life.  Music and cycling.

I have spent a full week choosing the music for the next semester at Rikkyo University, sandwiching in longish bike rides when possible.  That and planning for some upcoming long rides (more on that later).  All of the music for this semester will be new to the choir.  After completing the England tour a year ago and the recent CD recording, it seemed like time to go in a new direction, musically.  Thanks to suggestions by choir members, I have come to know the choral music of Ola Gjeilo.  What wonderful stuff!  It is too good to keep to myself, so I’ll share a couple of Youtube videos.  I dare you not to experience goosebumps!

Here is an excellent performance by the Phoenix Chorale of “Northern Lights.”  The alto section finally gets a part they can enjoy!

Here is another by Gjeilo I’m thinking about for this coming Christmas.  It’s sheer beauty brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it.  The students at Luther College do a very nice job with the work.

Of course the Rikkyo choir will sing music from it’s core rep as well (the English cathedral and college tradition).  How about some Weelkes for your Evensong?

Finally, an old chestnut.  Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” from the Vespers. (The chorus enters midway through the work)

Posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽, Cycling, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Kobe! 神戸!

I’m just catching up on photo editing, mailing, etc., so remembered that I haven’t posted a peep about my trip to Kobe late last month. Kobe is one of my favorite cities anywhere – it boasts a cosmpolitan city center, as well as mountains so close to town that you can start hiking within a few minutes, and clean waters of the inland sea just below town. Within minutes trains can whisk you to other parts of the Kansai area – Osaka and Kyoto are easy to get to from here. I was invited to give a recital and masterclass on hymn playing at Kobe International University, followed by a choir festival at St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral the next day. I really enjoyed being in the Kansai area, meeting people in the church music scene, and performing on the elegant Fisk organ at KIU. Here are some photos of the trip, which I made with my “the wife.”

The chapel and organ at KIU (神戸国際大学).  The chapel is a modern building with fine acoustics.  The tower is hollow, and serves as a resonance chamber for the organ.  A two minute walk from the chapel puts you right on the bay, where you can watch sea-going ships sailing back and forth.

University organist Junko Itoh was my host and sponsor.  Thanks for everything, Junko-san!

My assistant for the recital was my “the wife” (also known as Mariko).  She is the best page turner/stop puller there is.

President of Fisk Organs when this organ was built (10 years ago), Steven Dieck was present, and kindly tuned the organ again the day of the recital so that it was in perfect condition.

Here Steve is at work inside the organ

After my last practice session, “the wife” and I walked 5 minutes from the chapel to a seaside restaurant and enjoyed the sunset while sipping wine.  I think I want to move to Kobe and live this lifestyle!

On Sunday I got up earlier than usual and walked up into the hills behind the city.  Here was the morning view.

Before attending the morning service at St Michael’s Cathedral, I “attended” (visited) the shrine near Suwayama Park:

The last event of the trip was an afternoon choir festival at the cathedral.  I think around 100 people participated.  We worked together as an impromptu choir in order to sing the service of Evensong at the end of the workshop.  Presider of the service was Bishop Nakamura of the Diocese of Kobe, and organist was Junko Itoh (I directed the choir).  I have no photos of the day, but did sneak back into the cathedral the next day for a shot of the very pleasing Mander organ.  It is not the best photo, but you can get an idea of its setting.

On a personal note, this trip was very special for me.  In 1980 I visited Japan for the first time as a newlywed.  My first experience of a Japanese Anglican service was at St Michael’s Cathedral.  At that time I was an undergrad organ student with no Japanese abilities.  The cathedral was still carpeted, had acoustical tiles on the ceiling, and an Allen electronic organ in the balcony.  How things have changed!  Now they have a fine English organ, a renovated church with fine acoustics, and a busy music program.  I’m glad I had a chance to be part of the life of the church over the weekend.

Finally, that same summer in 1980 “the wife” took me to see the Sorakuen Japanese Garden near the cathedral.  I posed for the following photo then, so this time we returned for the first time in 37 years for another photo in the same place.  Here you are – a before and after comparison.  Which would you choose – youth or experience?


Posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽, Organ ~ オルガン関係 | Leave a comment

Choir CD Recording Finished 〜 CDのための録音が無事に終わりました

Yesterday, Feb 2, the two choirs of Rikkyo University’s All Saints Chapel completed the last recording session for the CD to be released this spring.  It was done under ideal conditions – the campus was quiet, the weather bright, and both choirs were in good form. Once again the chapel was transformed into a recording studio by Mr. Kuzumaki (recording engineer) and his assistant Mr. Shirata.  Our university organist accompanied the choirs, as usual.  Ms Sakiyama recorded several organ works the day before (Feb 1), and these will be included in the CD.  I hope to be able to begin selling the finished product by mid-May.  Stay tuned for details.  Here are some photos of the day.



waiting to start recording (Shibata-san {left}, Kuzumaki-san {right})

chancel as studio

expensive-looking microphones

Women’s Choir

Mixed Choir


Posted in Choral ~ 聖歌隊関係, Church music ~ 教会音楽, Music - general ~ 音楽:一般, Rikkyo ~ 立教 | Leave a comment

Hello from Kobe! 神戸からハロー!

神戸国際大学のチャペル Kobe International University Chapel

Hello from the lovely city of Kobe.  I’m here to play a recital on the Fisk organ in the chapel of Kobe International University this Saturday.  I spent four hours practicing on the organ today, and found it an absolute delight to play.  The chapel is resonant, and the organ plays to the space most effectively, with everything from a full-organ roar supported by a rumbling bass, to a bare whisper of a sound that seems to come from far beyond the walls of the chapel.  I was asked to play an all-English program, and (surprisingly), the repertoire works very well – everything from a Purcell Voluntary to a Howells Sarabande.  If you are in the area on Saturday, do come by at 1:00.  This is an organ well worth making an effort to hear.  Photos of the chapel and organ:


(By the way, I am blogging via my iPhone 7 Plus and a Bluetooth keyboard as an experiment.  It cetainly is easy to take the photos for the blog on the phone, edit them on the phone, and then to write and post with the phone.  It seems to be a good all-in-one solution for the traveler who likes to go light.)

Posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽, Organ ~ オルガン関係 | 2 Comments