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Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'll Have My Bourbon With Richard Burchard

It might not surprise you to hear me brag about a family member. "Everybody does that," you'll say, and go on about your business. But this time I'll keep bugging you because my bragging rights have their basis in reality, even if my claim to my relative is a bit tenuous.

My cousin Richard Burchard is, if I may say, a brilliant composer. Of this I have proof, even if I'm not sure we're related. Yesterday morning I heard the 2012 California All-State High School choir rehearse Richard's new a cappella choral piece, "Ubi Caritas," at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. So many beautiful voices united to sing such gorgeous music made my eyes water, for some odd reason. (Full disclosure: I heard them sing "Ubi Caritas" in a basement choir room, but the sanctuary makes a more impressive photo.)

Richard is Associate Professor of Music and Department Chair at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. He teaches a study abroad program in Salzburg, Austria and recently taught one in South Africa. He and I did not meet at a family reunion. We met online several years ago when Richard was--I'm not sure what he was doing--Googling Burchards, I guess. Yesterday was our third in-person meeting, but we hit it off from the beginning. I've even got pictures of him on my Facebook. We felt like family immediately and we're pretty sure, somewhere back in our history, there's a connection. If there isn't, we don't want to know.

During the rehearsal, Richard had a chance to take questions from the kids in the choir. What an opportunity for everyone, when you think about it. It was great for Richard because he got to tell them about his process, let them know why he wrote what he wrote. They got to ask why he chose a particular chord progression or why he didn't use super low bass tones (so choirs without super-low bass singers could perform it). One young man asked which classical composer Richard would most like to have a beer with. ("I'm from Kentucky, can it be bourbon?") If I remember correctly, he chose Handel. You don't get to have a conversation like that with Bach or Mendelssohn. I'll bet they'd have loved to have taken the microphone to talk to those talented kids but they wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining.

Richard heads back to Louisville today. "I can always be at a premiere," he says. Considering his works have premiered in places like Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, I don't blame him for wanting to make the trip. But I'm hoping for more premieres around here, too. That way he'll be back soon.

16 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

WOW!, listened to the playlist and what a calming, beautiful sound... kids love to question and its great he had a q&a w/them... what a learning experience for them as well as for him...

Susan Campisi said...

Darn, I tried to listen but it's not working on my old computer. I'll try on another computer later. But the way you described it makes me want to go sit in that church and hear that choir sing myself. Not many things can entice me to go to church; music so beautiful your eyes water can.

Petrea Burchard said...

He's influenced by 16th Century choral music, if that's any indication to you. The stuff is beautiful and the kids were thanking him for writing it. They loved singing it.

BaysideLife said...

Brag away. He's an amazing person who has accomplished so much. Unfortunately, I could not listen to his work either. How lucky those students were to have a first hand meeting with a real artist.

Petrea Burchard said...

Try his Myspace, maybe that's better for music.
http://www.myspace.com/richardburchard

Bellis said...

That's such beautiful music. It MUST be good if choirs enjoy singing it. What a talented relative you have. And what a talented relative he has. Your photo of the enormous church hall is beautiful.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

The only time anyone tries to contact me, by my name, it's a collection agency. It's a weekly thing and no, I don't owe. Your connection is much more positive (although that church scares me)

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, Bellis. The sanctuary is huge, and special attention has been paid to acoustics. You can see by the shape of the walls that sound was thought of in the planning and building of it.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's because Pasadena Adjacent is such a common name. Some other PA out there is not paying their bills in a timely fashion.

I had always wanted to go in to the Lake Avenue Church. It's a huge place and I would love to wander its nooks and crannies. I didn't, because I was there in Richard's name and wouldn't want to get him into trouble. but it would be an adventure.

Ms M said...

I just listened to some of his works -- what rich, gorgeous harmonies! So beautiful.
During my college days, I sang in an A Cappella choir and loved how it felt to "be inside" the music. It must be such a joy for those singing his work. All the best to him!

Petrea Burchard said...

Ms. M, I could see it on the faces of those singers--they were "inside" the music, too, and reveling in there. From where I sat, it was a joy to listen.

Margaret said...

Well look how special your family is. That's pretty impressive.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yes! And look what I found for you!
http://doubledutydiary.blogspot.com/2006/09/other-famous-finnegans.html

altadenahiker said...

Excellent choice in relatives.

Latino Heritage said...

I agree with altadenahiker.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks. I'm glad, in this case, that I got to choose. I do have some fine relatives that came included when I was born as well.