A Christmas Faculty Collaboration

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Among the most fruitful and meaningful faculty collaborations I have had was working with Dr. Duncan Couch, then Director of Choral Activities at Stetson University, on what has been a great tradition, the Christmas Candlelight Concerts.  The event features the Concert Choir—and other musicians—performing glorious Christmas choral works, interspersed with readings from the Bible and other sources.

During the 18 years he directed the Concert, Dr. Couch selected prose and poetic works to introduce the choral selections.  He would spend months making his choices and over the years acquired an impressive library of Christmas books, which he donated to the Library at Stetson when he retired.  One year he invited me and my wife Nancy to select and read passages for the concert.

My family and I have never missed the Christmas Candlelight Concert in 35 years. We had become good friends with Dr. Couch, truly “a prince of a man” — learned, gifted, witty, personable—and a real “gentleman and scholar.”  Both my daughters, Anna and Caroline, while attending Stetson, sang in the  Choir and went with the group on Dr. Couch’s last European concert tour.

Before his last Candlelight Concert in 2005, I collaborated with Dr. Couch and wrote a series of meditations to be read during the program.  I told him at the outset that if the meditations didn’t really work well, he was under no obligation to use them.  My plan was to listen to each piece (he supplied me with recordings from various sources), immerse myself in the music and the lyrics, and then write appropriate mediations, which would introduce each musical piece and somehow “enhance” the performance.

I was quite astounded when Dr. Couch said, “I want to use them all.”  I was hoping, in fact, that he would choose at least one or two of the mediations and rely on his considerable library for the rest of them.

His procedure was to audition students in the Choir to determine who would be assigned the readings.  Once he selected the readers, he invited me to attend a rehearsal to listen to the students and make suggestions about emphasis and overall presentation.

To have such an important role in the Candlelight Concert that year was for me a deeply meaningful and profound experience, one that I cherish and am reminded of each Christmas.

It is likely to be the most significant faculty collaboration I will ever have as a librarian on a university campus.

In my next blog, I’ll share with you the text of the meditations.

         —- Contributed by Sims Kline

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