My choir's next summer camp, by special arrangement with The Governor's Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts (then called Governor Dummer Academy—the reason for the rechristening needs no gloss), gave us not only the independence we needed to manifest our choral ascension, but also a quaint, well-manicured New England village to revel in for a few weeks.
Chosen for its five-mile proximity to our conductor Thomas Murray's home in Newburyport, the Academy replaced the rustic ramble of Trinity Church Camp and the army-barracks arrangement of Camp Duncan with the exurban elitism of the North Shore. Trinity's building-to-building trek heedless of the wind and weather remained, but was elevated to a more erudite level, as if we were going to a glitterati boarding school rather than a ramshackle summer camp. And, to a degree, we were. The refinement of the architecture reflected the sophistication of our music education under Mr. Murray's organ digits and drill-sergeant chops.
|Moody House (18th century), The Governor's Academy, Byfield, Mass.|
|Little Red Schoolhouse, 1763, reconstructed 1938 by William Graves Perry|
|Mason Cottage (1912-1915, George Champney, bequeathed by Ida Mason)|
This path led to our dining hall. As its colonial propriety suggests, it was a cut above Trinity's pine-plank mess hall in refinement—in setting, if not bill of fare, save for our end-of-summer banquet, when a debate over steak vs. fried clams as our parting repast heated up the hall. (I chose steak, amid boos from the clamdigger crowd. It was an even split, until Counselor Donny cast the tiebreaker: "Steak.")
|Chapel interior, The Governor's Academy, c.1965.|
- "Saints Bound for Heaven," a spiritual arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw;
- "Cantate Domino" by Hans Leo Hassler;
- "Jubilate Deo" by Benjamin Britten;
- "Rejoice in the Lord Alway" by Henry Purcell;
- "O How Amiable" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
|Chapel, The Governor's Academy, c.1965.|
- "The Happy Wanderer" by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller;
- "Come to the Fair" by Easthope Martin;
- "The Musical Trust" by Joseph W. Clokey (stepfather of Gumby clayboy creator Art Clokey), a 1925 ballad about a flautist, a tuba-player, and a drum-and-cymbal combo who can't make money on their own so they form a band. (This incorporated snatches from familiar American tunes including "Turkey in the Straw," "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay," "The Stars and Stripes Forever," "Dixieland," "How Dry I Am," "Jingle Bells," "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" and "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean." An interesting way for Mr. Murray to sandwich a whole pops program into one number so he could leave ample room for his blessed canticles.)
- He considered Allan Sherman's "No One's Perfect," based on Cornell University's alma mater "Far Above Cayuga's Waters," but shelved it for some reason. (Too bad; it would have brought the house down as a P.D.Q. Bach-esque satire on the "sloppy singing" he'd kvetch about in our rehearsals.)
|Newburyport, Massachusetts, featuring the Meetinghouse of the First Religious Society (Unitarian), built 1801|
|Rockport, Massachusetts, featuring the First Congregational Church, built 1805|
|Middle Road, Rockport, Mass. Photo by Robert Linsdell, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.|
We ourselves did that in a concert at Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center in Byfield, a marriage of Cape, Craftsman, Medieval Revival and Shingle styles that elevated the rusticity and simplicity of Rockport's cottages to a lofty ecclesiastical level in a way that was simultaneously homey and high-church.
This living-room setting, cozied by half-timbering and exposed rafters for a medieval fireside effect, provided an intimate atmosphere for our concert.
So my summers of '75 and '76 were adventures in architecture more than music, in line with Mr. Murray's vision for an eruditely cultured society. He orchestrated our odyssey according to his personal tastes in music and design, with as few kowtows to the mainstream as he could get away with. Which was the polar opposite of the roughing it I was in for in my final camp in the summer of '77—the Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, Rhode Island.
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