Hopping Off the “What If” Bus

Hopping Off the “What If” Bus
by Jenefer Igarashi
From Crosswalk.com Homeschool Encouragement, Monday, January 2, 2012

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it ruins my day. It generally takes place when I am in line at the grocery store, or scrunched between my six kids in the sales aisle searching for the best price on boy’s underwear. The scene goes something like this….

I look down and realize that my oldest son has two different shoes on — a rubber, yellow boot and a brown sandal. My youngest daughter is pulling long, stretchy, strands of gum out of her hair and sticking them to the back of her sister’s shirt, who, at the sudden realization, begins protesting (wide-eyed and grossed out) way too loudly.

In the meantime, the wet two-year-old on my hip begins sneezing uncontrollably on account of his weird habit of winding locks of my un-brushed hair around his finger and shoving the ends up his nose. And when I look up at my oldest daughter with my much used “could you help me, please?!!” stare, I realize that she’s standing there, frozen — dead asleep — eyes open, but snoring.

And that’s when “She” walks by.

Read more:


Originally published on January 19, 2009

Jenefer Igarashi lives in East TN with her husband, Geoff the Great; together they homeschool their six kids on a little farm. She can be contacted by email, Jeneferig@gmail.com, or thru her blog, http://jeneralities.com/

Jacob Obrecht and Rompeltiere


Jacob Obrecht or Hobrecht (1457/8 – late July 1505) was a Low Countries or greater Netherlandish composer who was known mainly for his substantial output of Mass Ordinary settings in Europe during the late 15th century, as well as for his motets and songs, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.  What little is known of Obrecht’s origins and early childhood comes mostly from his motet Mille quingentis.  He was born in the 1450s, probably around 1457 or 1458, at Ghent, then in South Netherlands but now the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province in the Flemish Region of Belgium, the only son of Ghent city trumpeter Willem Obrecht and his first wife Lijsbette Gheeraerts. His mother died in 1460 at the age of 20, and his father in 1488 in Ghent.  Details of his early education are sparse, but he probably learned to play the trumpet, like his father, and in so doing learned counterpoint and how to improvise over a cantus firmus.  He is likely to have known Antoine Busnois at the Burgundian court, and certainly knew his music, since Obrecht’s earliest mass shows close stylistic parallels with the elder composer.

Jacob may have been preparing in his early years to follow his father’s work, but at some point shifted directions and entered the priesthood.   Scholar, composer and clergyman, Obrecht seems to have had a succession of short appointments, two of which ended in less than ideal circumstances. There is a record of his compensating for a shortfall in his accounts by donating choirbooks he had copied.  Throughout the period he was held in the highest esteem both by his patrons and by his fellow composers. Renaissance composer Johann Tinctoris, writing in Naples, singles him out in a shortlist of contemporary master composers—all the more significant because he was only 25 when Tinctoris created his list, and on the other side of Europe. Erasmus served as one of Obrecht’s choirboys around 1476.  After four years as the choirmaster at the Sint Gertrudiskerk in Bergen op Zoom, he took a similar position at Cambrai Cathedral, but soon left in favor of the succentorship at the church of Sint-Donaas in Bruges (1485). Obrecht composed the Missa de Sancto Martino and the Missa de Sancto Donatiano in 1486 and 1487.

Obrecht wrote mainly sacred music—masses and motets—and he also wrote some chansons.  Combining modern and archaic elements, Obrecht’s style is multi-dimensional.  Perhaps more than those of the mature Josquin, the masses of Obrecht display a profound debt to the music of Johannes Ockeghem in the wide-arching melodies and long musical phrases that typify the latter’s music. Obrecht’s style is an example of the contrapuntal extravagance of the late 15th century.  He often used a cantus firmus technique for his masses.   Sometimes he divided his source material up into short phrases; at other times he used retrograde versions of complete melodies or melodic fragments. He once even extracted the component notes and ordered them by note value, long to short, constructing new melodic material from the reordered sequences of notes. Clearly to Obrecht there could not be too much variety, particularly during the musically exploratory period of his early twenties. He began to break free from conformity to formes fixes, especially in his chansons. Of the formes fixes, the rondeau retained its popularity longest. However, he much preferred composing Masses, where he found greater freedom. Furthermore, his motets reveal a wide variety of moods and techniques.

In his Missa Sub tuum presidium, the number of voice parts in the five movements increases from three in the Kyrie, to four in the Gloria, and so on up to seven in the Agnus Dei.  The title chant is clearly heard in the top voice throughout the work, and five additional Marian chants are found in movements other than the Kyrie.  His late four-voice mass, Missa Maria zart (tender Maria), tentatively dated to around 1504, is based on a devotional song popular in the Tyrol, which he probably heard as he went through the region around 1503 to 1504.  Requiring more than an hour to perform, it is one of the longest polyphonic settings of the Mass Ordinary ever written.  Despite working at the same period, Obrecht and Ockeghem (Obrecht’s senior by some 30 years) differ significantly in musical style.  Obrecht does not share Ockeghem’s fanciful treatment of the cantus firmus but chooses to quote it verbatim. Whereas the phrases in Ockeghem’s music are ambiguously defined, those of Obrecht’s music can easily be distinguished, though both composers favor wide-arching melodic structure. Furthermore, Obrecht splices the cantus firmus melody with the intent of audibly reorganizing the motives; Ockeghem, on the other hand, does this far less.

Obrecht’s procedures contrast sharply with the works of the next generation, who favored an increasing simplicity of approach (prefigured by some works of his contemporary Josquin).   Although he was renowned in his time, Obrecht appears to have had little influence on subsequent composers; most probably, he simply went out of fashion along with the other contrapuntal masters of his generation.  While most of Obrecht’s appointments were in Flanders in the Low Countries, he made at least two trips to Italy.  Soon after composing the Missa de Sancto Donatiano in 1487 he accepted the invitation of his admirer Duke Ercole d’Este of Ferrara to visit Ferrara.  Ercole had heard Obrecht’s music, which is known to have circulated in Italy between 1484 and 1487, and said that he appreciated it above the music of all other contemporary composers; consequently he invited Obrecht to Ferrara for six months in 1487 .  Jacob returned to Bruges after ten months. Sometime after the death of Willem Obrecht in November 1488, Jacob composed the motet Mille quingentis with the Introit from the Requiem Mass and a non-liturgical text about his father’s soul being carried to heaven.

The sixteen years following his time in Ferrara were spent in employment at Bruges, Bergen op Zoom, Antwerp, Innsbruck, and other unknown locations.  In 1504 Obrecht was finally granted the coveted position of maestro di cappella at Ferrara and returned to Ferrara, but on the death of the Duke at the beginning of the next year he became unemployed. In what capacity he stayed in Ferrara is unknown, but he died in the outbreak of plague there just before August 1, 1505.  Compared to other composers of his skill and stature in the late 15th century, Obrecht’s career never truly blossomed. Records of clashes with his superiors at the Cambrai Cathedral and at the Sint-Donaaskerk in Bruges suggest some professional laxity. Perhaps the quality of his voice, particularly later in his life, could also have been an obstacle in reaching the level of success enjoyed by other composers of the period, such as Ockeghem and Josquin. Nonetheless, his substantial compositional legacy, especially the Mass music, was much admired in the decades after his death, especially in Germany.

The following work by Jacob Obrecht is contained in my collection:


Chester Academy, Chester, Ohio


Chester Academy

State Route 248

Chester, Ohio 45720

The Chester Academy is an old school in Meigs County, OH.  Chester’s first school was established in 1830, largely under the influence of a Scottish scholar, Samuel Halliday, who settled in Chester Township and embarked on teaching the local children. The present three-story building was erected in 1839 with the goal of serving students from all over Meigs County. In its early years, the brick school building was used for all sorts of community events. The township trustees rented it as a voting place, social groups such as debate societies and singing schools held their meetings in it, and the complete absence of church buildings in the township prompted all of the township’s churches to worship in it. The building remained in use for scholastic purposes until the Civil War, after which the school closed and its building was converted into storage for the adjacent courthouse.  In 1975, the courthouse and school were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places, qualifying both because of their architecture and the place that they had played in Ohio’s history. The two buildings are presently operated as a museum by the Chester-Shade Historical Association.

Michael Nyman and “The Piano”


Michael Laurence Nyman (b. March 23, 1944) is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist, and musicologist, known for numerous film scores (many written during his lengthy collaboration with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway), and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to Jane Campion’s The Piano.  Nyman was born in Stratford, London, England, on March 23, 1944, to a family of Polish secular Jewish furriers.  Educated at the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow, he studied at King’s College London and was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music in September 1961, studying with Alan Bush and Thurston Dart, focusing on piano and seventeenth-century baroque music. He won the Howard Carr Memorial Prize for composition in July 1964.  In 1965–66 Nyman secured a residency in Romania, to study folk-song, supported by a British Council bursary.

In 1969, Nyman provided the libretto of Harrison Birtwistle’s opera Down by the Greenwood Side and directed the short film Love Love Love (based on, and identical in length to, the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”) before settling into music criticism, where he is generally acknowledged to have been the first to apply the term “minimalism” to music (in a 1968 article in The Spectator magazine about the English composer Cornelius Cardew). He wrote introductions for George Frideric Handel’s Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 and interviewed George Brecht in 1976.  One of his earliest film scores was the British comedy Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), and he has since scored numerous films, many of them European art films, including several of those directed by Peter Greenaway.  Nyman says he discovered his aesthetic playing the aria, “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni on his piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis.  It subsequently became the base for his 1977 piece In Re Don Giovanni.

In the 1970s, Nyman was a member of the Portsmouth Sinfonia – the self-described World’s Worst Orchestra – playing on their recordings and in their concerts. He was the featured pianist on the orchestra’s recording of Bridge Over Troubled Water on the Martin Lewis-produced 20 Classic Rock Classics album on which the Sinfonia gave their unique interpretations of the pop and rock repertoire of the 1950s–1970s. Nyman created a similar group called Foster’s Social Orchestra, which specialised in the work of Stephen Foster. One of their pieces appeared in the film Ravenous and an additional work, not used in the film, appeared on the soundtrack album.

Nyman drew frequently on early music sources in his scores for Greenaway’s films: Henry Purcell in The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) (which included Memorial and Miserere Paraphrase), Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber in A Zed & Two Noughts (1985), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Drowning by Numbers (1988), and John Dowland in Prospero’s Books (1991), largely at the request of the director. He wrote settings to various texts by Mozart for Letters, Riddles and Writs, part of Not Mozart. He also produced a soundtrack for the silent film Man with a Movie Camera. Nyman’s popularity increased after he wrote the score to Jane Campion’s award-winning 1993 film The Piano. The album became a classical music best-seller. He was nominated for both a British Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Nyman’s few forays into Hollywood have been Gattaca (1997), Ravenous (1999) (with musician Damon Albarn), and The End of the Affair (1999).  Among Nyman’s other works are the opera Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs (1987), for soprano, alto, tenor and instrumental ensemble (based on Nyman’s score for the ballet La Princesse de Milan); Ariel Songs (1990) for soprano and band; MGV (Musique à Grande Vitesse) (1993) for band and orchestra; concertos for saxophone, piano (based on The Piano score), violin, harpsichord, trombone, and saxophone & cello recorded by John Harle and Julian Lloyd Webber; the opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1986), based on a case-study by Oliver Sacks; and five string quartets. In 2000, he produced a new opera on the subject of cloning on a libretto by Victoria Hardie titled Facing Goya, an expansion of their one-act opera Vital Statistics. The lead, a widowed art banker, is written for contralto and the role was first created by Hilary Summers. His newest operas are Man and Boy: Dada (2003) and Love Counts (2005), both on libretti by Michael Hastings.  He has also composed the music for the children’s television series Titch[8] which is based on the books written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins.

Many of Nyman’s works are written for his own ensemble, the Michael Nyman Band, a group formed for a 1976 production of Carlo Goldoni’s Il Campiello. Originally made up of old instruments such as rebecs and shawms alongside more modern instruments like the saxophone to produce as loud a sound as possible without amplification, it later switched to a fully amplified line-up of string quartet, three saxophones, trumpet, horn, bass trombone, bass guitar and piano. This line up has been variously altered and augmented for some works.   Nyman also published an influential book in 1974 on experimental music called Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, which explored the influence of John Cage on classical composers.

Nyman has also recorded pop music with the Flying Lizards; a version of his Bird List from the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway’s The Falls (1980) appears on their album Fourth Wall as “Hands 2 Take.”  On July 7, 2007, Nyman performed at Live Earth in Japan.  In 2008 Nyman realized, in collaboration with the cultural association Volumina, Sublime, an artist’s book that unified his music with his passion for photography.  In October 2009, Nyman released The Glare, a collaborative collection of songs with David McAlmont, which cast his work in a new light. The album – recorded with the Michael Nyman Band – finds McAlmont putting lyrics based on contemporary news stories to 11 pieces of Nyman music drawn from different phases of his career.

In 2012, he made a soundtrack for film Everyday. Keith H. Yoo in 2012 commissioned Nyman to write a 26 minutes long piano quintet in four movements titled Through the Only Window. It premiered at the gala dinner for his father Yoo Byung-eun’s photographic exhibition “Through My Window” in the Tuileries Garden of The Louvre in Paris on June 25, 2012. The work has been recorded by Nyman Quintet in the Abbey Road Studios, and has been released on Nyman’s record label.  In 2013 Nyman was again commissioned to compose a piece for Yoo Byung-eun’s exhibition in the Orangerie Hall of the Palace of Versailles, and wrote the 32 minutes long symphony in four movements, Symphony No. 6 “AHAE”, representing the four seasons in nature as depicted by Ahae, a pseudonym for Yoo Byung-eun. The London Symphony Orchestra premiered both pieces at L’Opéra of the Palace of Versailles in Paris on September 8, 2013 under the baton of the composer. It has been recorded for a planned future release.

My collection includes the following work by Michael Nyman:

The Piano (1993): The Heart Asks Pleasure First.

Jaime Nuno and the Mexican National Anthem


Jaime Nunó-Roca (September 8, 1824 – July 18, 1908) was a Spanish composer from Catalonia who composed the music for the Mexican national anthem.  Nunó was born on September 8, 1824, in Sant Joan de les Abadesses, a town in the province of Girona, in Catalonia, Spain. Both his parents, Francisco Nunó and Magdalena Roca, died before his ninth birthday. After their death, Nunó was raised by his uncle Bernard, a seller of silks in Barcelona, who financed his musical studies in that city. There he demonstrated his skill as a soloist in the city cathedral, for which he gained a scholarship to study with the composer Saverio Mercadante in Italy.

Upon Nunó’s return to Barcelona, he was named director of the Queen’s Regimental Band in 1851 and travelled with them to Cuba where he met and befriended Antonio López de Santa Anna, the former Mexican president.  When Santa Anna returned to Mexico in 1853 to again resume the office of president, he invited Jaime Nunó to lead the Mexican military bands. His arrival coincided with the national call to compose the Mexican National Anthem. Nunó participated, composing music for the lyrics of Mexican poet Francisco González Bocanegra, and was declared the winner on August 12, 1854.

After the overthrow of President Santa Anna, Nunó emigrated to the U.S. and worked as a conductor and opera director. One of the operas he directed toured the Americas in 1864.  After a time in Spain, he returned to the U.S. and settled in New York, where he was found by a Mexican journalist in 1901. When this news reached Mexico, the current president, Porfirio Díaz, invited him to return; he did so and received various honors between 1901 and 1904. He died in New York on July 18, 1908.

The following work by Jaime Nuno is contained in my collection:

Mexicanos al Grito de Guerra.

Jerry Nowak and the Great Lakes Overture


Gerald Chester “Jerry” Nowak (April 16, 1936- December 14, 2015) was a prolific American arranger, composer, conductor, author and music educator who achieved an international following and was known especially for his innovations in the techniques and teaching of conducting and phrasing. Born in Detroit, Michigan , on April 16, 1936, and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, he achieved his Bachelor of Science in Music and Master of Music Composition from the College of New Jersey, formerly Trenton State College. He also studied with Lucien Cailliet (arranger for the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy), Charles Russo (world-renowned clarinetist with the New York City Opera), Herbert Pate (Westminster Choir College), and Dr. John Finley Williamson (founder of Westminster Choir).

Early in his career Jerry worked as a woodwind player and session singer in New York and Philadelphia. He was a fixture on the Dixieland jazz scene in the 1950s and 1960s, and played with a diverse range of singers and groups, including big bands, jazz ensembles, and national pop and R&B groups including Stevie Wonder among many others. He also toured with Burt Bacharach, and was a founding member of the Philadelphia Saxophone Quartet and New Jersey Saxophone Quartet. Jerry was a co-founder and the Music Director of the Delaware Valley Wind Symphony, appeared as a guest conductor with the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, and numerous professional, college and high school ensembles across the U.S. Jerry started his teaching career at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, NJ, where he taught from 1959 to 1969.

With his brother, Henry Nowak, Jerry co-authored two innovative college textbooks published by Carl Fischer: Conducting the Music, Not the Musicians, and The Art of Expressive Playing, the latter being the first comprehensive textbook on expressive performance. His writing career began in the early 1970s as an arranger for Paul Simon’s publishing company, Charing Cross Music. Over a forty year period he went on to contribute over 1,100 arrangements and compositions for publishers in the U.S. and abroad, making him one of the most widely published musicians of his generation. He arranged vocal and instrumental works in a broad range of styles for both youth and professional ensembles, including concert band, marching band, chamber winds, and jazz band. Through his arrangements, teachings and books, he influenced thousands of amateur and professional musicians, conductors, and music teachers around the globe.

Thereafter, Beginning in 1969 Nowak taught at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where he directed the college’s Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble and Swing Singers, until 2005 when he retired as Professor Emeritus of Music. He travelled extensively as a clinician and adjudicator, and taught graduate level courses at colleges throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Jerry also served as an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, and taught at The University of the Arts on the campus of Villanova University for twenty years. In 2014 he completed his 30th consecutive season of teaching at the Jerry Nowak Summer Conducting School in Sydney, at the invitation of the Australian Band and Orchestra Director’s Association in New South Wales. He also taught at the summer school of Melbourne Youth Music for 26 seasons.

With over 1,100 published compositions and arrangements for instrumental and vocal ensembles, Jerry was one of the most widely published composers and arrangers of the past forty years.  Jerry appeared extensively throughout the United States as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator, conducting numerous professional recording sessions in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and London, England.    He has appeared as guest conductor with the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, and has served as the Musical Director of the Delaware Valley Wind Symphony since its founding in 2006. He is also the conductor and arranger for Jim Gafgen, a popular tenor who performs in the New York and Philadelphia areas. Jerry appears in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 editions of Who’s Who in America, published by Marquis. In 2003 the Australian Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association in New South Wales named the Jerry Nowak Conducting Summer School in his honor.  In January 2015 Jerry completed his 30th consecutive season of teaching in Sydney on behalf of the association.  Nowak, 79, died in Flemington, NJ, on December 14, 2015, following a protracted illness.

My collection includes the following work by Jerry Nowak:

Great Lakes Overture.


Michele Novaro and the Italian National Anthem


Michele Novaro (December 23, 1818 – October 20, 1885) was an Italian songwriter and patriot, who composed “Il Canto degli Italiani”, which has been the national anthem of the Italian Republic, unofficially since 1946 and officially since 2012.  Novaro was born at Genoa, Italy, then in the Kingdom of Sardinia, on December 23, 1818, where he studied composition and singing.  His life was quite simple. In 1847 he was in Turin , with a second- degree contract and master of choirs of the Regio and Carignano theaters .  A convinced Liberal, he put his compositional talent at the service of the cause of independence, singing many patriotic songs and organizing various fundraising funds to finance and support Giuseppe Garibaldi’s businesses. That year he composed the music of what became the Italian national anthem, The Canto degli Italiani.

“Il Canto degli Italiani” (“The Song / Chant of the Italians”) is best known among Italians as “Inno di Mameli” (“Mameli’s Hymn”), after the author of the lyrics, or “Fratelli d’Italia” (“Brothers of Italy”), from its opening line. The words were written in the autumn of 1847 in Genoa, by the then 20-year-old student and patriot Goffredo Mameli. Two months later, they were set to music in Turin by Novaro. The hymn enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the period of the Risorgimento and in the following decades.  Nevertheless, after the Italian Unification in 1861, the adopted national anthem was the “Marcia Reale” (Royal March), the official hymn of the House of Savoy composed in 1831 by order of King Charles Albert of Sardinia.

Novaro, back in Genoa between 1864 and 1865, founded a Popular Choral School , free of charge, to whom he devoted all his efforts. Perhaps because of his modest y, he never took great advantages from the “Inno di Mameli.”  His activity was mainly based on the composition of hymns and patriotic songs that, due to their strong liberal ideas, were to be offered to the cause of the Italian Risorgimento.  He was also the author of the music of a hymn by Piedmontese poet Giuseppe Bertoldi .  Between financial difficulties and health problems, Novaro died poor on October 20, 1885, in Genoa.  At the initiative of his former students, a funeral monument was erected in his hometown in the monumental Cemetery of Staglieno , next to the tomb of Giuseppe Mazzini.  After the Second World War, Italy became a republic, and on October 12, 1946, “Il Canto degli Italiani” was provisionally chosen as the country’s new national anthem. This choice was made official in law only on November 23, 2012.

The following work by Michele Novaro is contained in my collection:

Inno di Mameli.