Monday 24 July

Please accept my apologies for neglecting the blog since 4 July.

I spent a wonderful week in Cincinnati at the National Pastoral Musicians Convention. At Tampa airport I offered my photo ID but unfortunately my driving license is marked ‘temporary’ and therefore was invalid for this purpose. However they let me through after undergoing a rather thorough frisk or ‘pat down’ as they called it.

My parish sent Leo our Spanish Music Director and myself. Hitherto we had only managed fleeting conversations but this time together enabled us to get to know each other so that our collaboration over bilingual Masses could be deeper. As soon as I got there I found loads of people welcoming me. Leo must have wondered who he was accompanying! The welcome was a result of getting to know 40 composers at their 5 day meeting in St Louis in January. This friendship also enabled me to introduce Leo to some notable musicians from the hispanic sector.

I had booked us in to the Millenium Hotel because our pastor was originally going to join us and his mobility had to be considered. This was a mistake and even at check-in I had to complain that prior arrangements had been ignored. I continued with my complaints later that evening and on check-out. As a result they reduced our bills considerably and we did not have to pay for the breakfasts we enjoyed each day.

During the Convention I had agreed to appear as a helpful critic for budding composers at the Liturgical Composers Forum’s two sessions but apart from that I was free to attend many interesting sessions and plenaries. Paul Inwood and Chris Walker were the other English attendees but it was great to spend time with the likes of Marty Haugen, Bob Hurd, Jaime Cortez, and many others whose names will be less known in UK.

I was surprised to hear my transcription of ‘Bambelela’ during the President’s Address and later during the OCP Showcase to hear my arrangement of Bernadette Farrell’s Renew me, Lord. It was a pity that they did not use the instrumental parts but you can’t have everything! The singing by 2000 musicians was something to behold.

I returned to Tampa for a weekend of Masses and great fatigue as I had not enjoyed my usual days off! The focus of my work was in preparing material for the church projection system and screens which were installed while I was away. They were launched yesterday to great acclaim and immediately the singing was improved. On Thursday I had my evaluation and was able to express my concern that the preparation of texts for the screens was taking so much of my time. Happily my concerns were heeded and the lion share of this work has now been passed elsewhere.

Tomorrow evening my brother Chris, his wife Sue and daughter Bethan arrive in Tampa. They will spend a short time with me at either end of their 14 day trip to Savannah and Nashville. I’m really looking forward to this.

The weather has been pretty miserable for the last week or so. This is typical for Florida in the summer when the rain arrives in torrents despite very hot and humid conditions.

The process of my Green Card seems hopeful. The authorities have cashed my cheques which indicates a positive expectation and last Tuesday I had to attend for biometric tests. I am hoping this will be enough to reduce the interest rates we aliens have to pay for mortgages. I should be able to put in an offer on a house next week … if I see anything I like!

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