Recently we debuted some groupings of musicians we haven’t heard together before. The Breezeway Players were a big success in late September, playing some really nice jazz arrangements. Laura Humphreys on steel drum, Bob Hull on electric guitar, Scott McLaughlin on trombone, and Cindy McLaughlin on flute rounded out a fine quartet. Here are a couple of short biographies about Scott and Cindy. “Scott Mclaughlin is an engineer and works at Spaceport America on business development and operations. He met his wonderful wife Cindy in the Pride Band 32 years ago, and is fortunate to still be making music together.” And, “Cindy is a retired middle school science teacher and has been playing the flute for 40+ years. She is also a member of the Mesilla Valley Concert Band.”
Scott, Laura and others will help with the fine music we have planned for Rev. Xolani’s Installation service. The choir is singing an anthem by the wonderful choral composer Mark Miller. Mark was our clinician at the Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries conference in July at First Unitarian in Denver. Our choir in Las Cruces loves “Draw the Circle Wide” and “I Believe,” both by him.
Mark told us about how he was adopted as an infant into a Methodist family. His father is a Methodist minister and both his parents are white. They had children, and they also created a multiracial family by adoption in the 60’s. Mark is of white and African-American descent. When his older sister unwrapped his baby blanket to look at him for the first time, she said, “He’s not that black!” He got a degree in organ at Julliard and was immediately hired by a Black Baptist church in Harlem. Both he and the congregation were surprised when they expected that he would know how to play gospel music—he assumed they knew he was classically trained, and they assumed he could just play gospel style. “He’s not that black!” seemed to be their reaction. He learned on the fly, and incorporated the style into his compositions. (By the way, he told us these stories while playing a Bach Toccata at the piano.)
When he came out as gay to his dad, the reaction was, “I love you, and God loves you as you are.” His father officiated a union ceremony for him and his partner long before marriage equality became a reality. He has worked hard within the United Methodist Church to promote acceptance of LGBTQ clergy, and sadly told us this summer that the church is “imploding.” Mark really spent time with us and loved the work we are doing, and was thrilled with our musical collaboration. He is one of those clinicians that we will not soon forget. You will be hearing more of his music this year.
Catherine Massey, Director of Music
AUUMN Credentialed Music Leader