All posts by Jeff Kempe

Bayeaux Redux



This much is clear:  We’re all still living a fabulous trip, and we love to remember it through pictures; we just passed 98,000 picture views since we left a month (!) ago.

In a trip that brought highlights every day, I still remember the beauty, the acoustics, the response, the tears the electricity of the Bayeaux concert.  As such I’ve uploaded several dozen more pics of the concert itself – here – that puts things in a moving sequence.  (Pics mostly taken by our friend and guide Ian.)  I’ve also consolidated more pics of the gorgeous cathedral, here.  Finally a few more pics of the town itself, here.

We’re rested now.  Time to go back…


family choir-1

This is three years AB; safely said is none of us have changed.


Shan mentioned nostalgia.  I’m reminded how much we’ve been through together, how much we’ve grown not only musically, but as a family.  Remember the old choir loft, marching to and from the steps, the carpeted chancel?  Remember the first Zambia concert, the Haiti concert, Gospel Christmas, ACDA?  Remember Italy?

As time allows I’m going to try to compile a folder of especially the older Bamonte era.  If anyone has any pictures, please send them along!



Like Father, Like Daughter. Music Nostalgia

From Shan:


Some simple nostalgia. A musical experience.

I was in school choirs starting in seventh grade through high school. I was fortunate to go to a high school with a great music and theater program. One year, the three schools in the district combined their choirs and orchestras to perform Mozart’s Requiem in full. We performed the concert in a fairly local church with good acoustics. Combined, we were a choir of 350. The orchestra nearly as big. Needless to say, with that many parents, the pews were full. Like the Sanctuary Choir, there was a lot of talent amongst us to really pull it off. It was an awesome experience and of course quite the accomplishment for high school students.

While I love the Requiem in its entirety, there are a few pieces that have stuck with me more than the rest all these years. By far, my favorite is the Kyrie. Year-after-year I find it popping in my head as it did this morning inspiring this note. I love how the basses start it off and it’s just an awesome series of runs in conjunction with the strings making it a very energetic piece with the sudden retard at the end where everyone comes together. Not far behind is Rex Tremendae. I love how it starts with the sudden bursts of power, “Rex!” and winds down to a pianissimo at the end.  And equal to the Rex, I do love the Dies Irae.

More than any solo or any other piece sung during that time, it was the hard work and the amazing experience of such a collaboration that I remember the most. Not unlike our recent experience with the Lux. Such hard work and such an amazing experience.



On Navigating SmugMug


Several have asked for more explicit instruction on how to navigate SmugMug, specifically how to download pictures.  Most important: Ignore the green ‘Buy’ button; not needed!

Here is the folder that contains all the galleries, sorted roughly chronologically.  (Note I’m still tweaking; just added a gallery of the Bayeaux Cathedral.)  Double click on any gallery to get to the pics; to return to the folder click on > Music Mission 2014 > on the upper left.

When you see a picture you want to download, click on it; it becomes full screen.  In the lower right corner are icons:  the cascade envelopes on the far right allows you to pick the size – the bigger the better the resolution.  (You can skip that if you just want what’s on the screen.)  To the immediate left of the cascade is a down arrow:  click on that to download.  If you have Windows 7 or 8 it goes into your ‘download’ folder by default.  You can then either scroll to the left or right to remain in full page mode, or click the x in the upper right corner to exit back to the gallery.

After downloading, with the exception of selling them, they’re yours to do with as you wish!

PS  Comments are enabled.  Always appreciate feedback!

From Linda Brugh

_1JK1879-1Two weeks back and we’re still absorbed with the trip.  I suspect we will be for a very long time, just as I suspect it will have an enormous impact on our ministry.

Linda Brugh was our spiritual leader, picking daily Scripture and writing the devotions.  She sends this:

Has anyone mentioned that Italian lady who was so moved (I believe at the Paris concert) by our McCleod anthems?  She was happy to hear her language.

 One lady at the Paris concert and one at the Bayeaux concert pointed to her heart – that each had been touched.  And then they ran their fingers up and down their arms – they felt chills and goose-bumps.

 I remember that couple who came to the rehearsal at Bayeaux, came to the concert, and followed us to the American cemetery at the beaches.  Who knew we would have groupies!

 At all three concerts I heard many people say that the choir seemed/was so joyful. 

 I was affected by the genuine gratitude many in the audience expressed to us when we went out to meet them after the concerts.  Many had tears in their eyes.


I was personally greatly affected by the piece of bloodied cloth at the basilica   in the main square of Brugges.  It didn’t matter whether it truly WAS Jesus blood on the cloth in the small glass vial, brought back from the Crusades to the Holy Land.  What mattered was the horrible, tremendous sacrifice He made on the cross, that HIS blood was shed.  For some reason seeing that “relic” really brought home the price He paid for me.  “Thank you, Lord,” was what I thought over and over.


After having sung in and visited such beautiful cathedrals in France and Belgium, I thought about all the sacrifices faithful Christians made over centuries in order to build such beautiful buildings—all to the glory of God. I thought about all the preachers, pastors, priests, and lay people who worshipped in those sacred halls.  I thought again with wonder at God’s plan, that down through over two thousand years there has been this great “cloud of witnesses” that left their imprint on the physical and spiritual landscape of Europe, and who passed on to us Jesus’ story of God’s great love for us.  And wonder of all wonders, WE get to continue that tradition, adding our small gifts, voices, and witness to theirs.

Thank you, Linda, from all of us!

A New Blog

Again, thank you ALL for your support and thanks. We love taking pictures, love editing them, love writing.

Several have asked – especially those overseas with only tacit connections to home – that we keep blogging.  The immediate problem is finding enough to write about:  it’s relatively easy on a Choir Mission, less so in the mundane pages of summer.

But you know what?  We’ll try.  This choir is family; there’s always something interesting happening.

Note this isn’t going to be Facebook; no one really cares what you had for breakfast.  That said, if you have special events, special stories, special people, let us know!  We’ll tell the world.

To begin we’ve archived all the posts from Music Mission 2014, in the order they were posted.  All the links are intact..


Still living it.  Wow, what a trip.

Love you all!

July 2, 2014: Paris in Black and White


Thank you ALL for your appreciation!  I’ve loved doing it, and that there have been over 75,000 picture views says that the connection between the travelers – and our Mission – and those of you who prayed and supported us from home was made.  Thanks be to God!


This Mission is enduring.  Not only were lives changed of those who heard, but the lives of each of us who went were changed as well.  Even Wendy – I hope I’m not betraying a confidence – said this:  “The witnessing of music having such power is still stirring in me.  I knew music could break barriers etc but I had never felt it and witnessed it so intensely before.  This is still changing me and how I view ministry and mission.”

Not to put any pressure on, but may I suggest we look forward to a powerful – powerful! – next season.


Paris in Black and White here.

July 1, 2014: Addenda

I feel a little like Steve Martin in The Jerk:  “Enough pictures; that’s plenty.  Well, except for this one.  Oh, and this; but that’s it!  I like this one, too…”

The truth is I only now finished looking at all of them!  

As Melinda just said, we’re all back to routine, but we’re still living that magnificent trip.  If anyone can suggest how it might have been improved, I’d love to hear.  I even think Mary Ann’s abscess and miraculous recovery was part of God’s plan.  We are so very, very blessed.

Several people asked Sunday to have the Music Mission 2014 folder link reposted.  That’s here.  The URL:

I’ve also added two galleries of additional pictures of Paris – here – and Brugges, here.  Some are redundant, but improved by post processing on a better computer and monitor.

I suspect there may be more…

June 26, 2014: Wound Down; The Beginning

_1JK2121 Pics of the lit up Bayeaux Cathedral here.  New gallery of pre-concert Brugges here. (Love those Titterington babes!)


Whew.  Forgive me, I’m going to make this personal:

1.  As Wendy and Jeff have said, we bonded as a group from the beginning.  But what’s important is that we bonded not only with each other, but with our choir brothers and sisters at home and with the congregation as a whole. Without your love, prayers and support nothing would have been the same.  Thank you, bless you!

2.  Did you notice in the pictures how many were recording the events?  We changed lives, and we’ll continue to change lives.  God is good!

3.  Oh, the comments:  “Thank you!  Others have come to sing, you came to worship.”  “We don’t often get the chance to praise God; thank you, thank you , thank you!”  In broken English: “My heart, my skin (indicating goose bumps); I love you all!”

4.  Wendy.  A good friend for over sixteen years, I have the distinction of being the only one on the nominating committee who voted against her hiring.  What do flutists know about choirs?

It’s the only time I’ve ever been wrong.

I’m tempted to soliloquy, but there’s no one reading this who doesn’t know what an incredible talent, what an incredible person, she is.  You know how they say no one is indispensable?  They’re incorrect.


And with that, bless you all!  Thank you for your emails of thanks; I’ve enjoyed doing this immensely. 

But right now?  Tired eyes.  Really tired eyes….