For the last two summers, I’ve spent one week with a bunch of Episcopalians on the beautiful Holy Mountain of Sewanee, Tennessee. There we sing great music, spend time worshipping with an amazing community, and (of course, because it’s a music conference for Episcopalians) drank great booze.
My first meeting of Mark Schweizer came on the first night of my conference of my first year. We were all gathered in the choir stalls of All Saints Chapel wait for opening compline to begin. i found myself in-between Kevin Simons, conference director and my choir teacher, and Mark, the author of the liturgical mysteries series and the found of St. James Music Press.
Boy, was this an interesting service.
Kevin and Mark were the best of friends. They always roomed together for the conference. And every year for Christmas, Mark sent Kevin the best gag Christmas gifts.
Like for real, last year Mark sent Kevin hand sewed curtains from a dead monks house. Those things are probably worth a fortune.
Anyway, compline my first year consisted of these goons trying to out bass each other. Mark is definitely a bass. He had a performance career before he started writing his mysteries. Kevin is a baritone. So, guess who won that battle?
My memories of Mark are all equally wonderful. I was always laughing when he was around. Whether he was telling us the legend of Templeton Library (which is messed up, go look it up) or talking about the time he was asked to sing an Evensong and ended up PREACHING at it with only the Magnificat’s worth of time to prepare. I tried my first gin beverage with him around to laugh at me when I made a face.
When I heard he wasn’t doing well, my heart froze up.
There can’t be a world without Mark Schweizer.
And now, that’s exactly what the reality is.
Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumor two months ago. He went through emergency surgery to remove the tumor and that surgery ended with a brain bleed. So they went in again to stop the bleeding.
Then they realized it was stage four and he opted out of chemo. He was placed on hospice care.
One of the best human being and one of my favorites passed away on Saturday morning. I can only imagine the trouble he’s already getting into. But he’s no longer suffering.
This Sunday at church, we sang an anthem that was published by St. James. Looking at it and singing the words on the page made me think of when Mark asked me to sing the descant for a reading session when we were at Sewanee. And I teared up.
And then I laughed, thinking how he must be looking down at me in this moment and judging me for getting emotional when I’m supposed to be singing beautifully.
He loved making fun of me.
He always told me if I wrote any churchy music, that he would publish it on his site in a heartbeat.
If it didn’t sound like Eric Whitacre, of course. Boy, the amount of times him and I got into it about the music of Eric Whitacre.
I used to get emails from him every month or so, reminding me to post another blog post. “Are you actually a blogger?” he said to me once, “blogs are supposed to be relatively frequent in nature.”
And that’s the irony here. My first blog post in months and it’s about this guy.
Mark, I hope you’re reading this somewhere and laughing. Cause even after you’re gone, you’re still bullying me to blog. We miss you already, dude. Rest easy.
2 thoughts on “Remembering Mark”
Hello Claire! You have no idea how much I sympathise with you over the loss of your friend, Mark. I also envy you tremendously that you got to know him at all – I bought his series of liturgical mysteries simply because I have some history with the Anglican Church. I’ve never been a professional musician, one more by trial and error (many congregations can ascertain to the errors) but on the basis of having 3 years of piano lessons between the ages of 5 and 8, and then self-taught, I took up my first organist’s post aged 13, and by the time I was 28 I was asked to take up another post and thought I’d better learn how to play the pedals. Now I am 66, and haven’t played since I was 54: varifocals are not the best lenses. Only twice in that whole time was I also the choir director – some of the worst year of my life as most of them knew more about music than I did. But when I moved to Oxfordshire I became the Verger at Magdalen College Chapel, daily listening to a choir and organ scholars with more talent in their little fingers than I have ever had.
…To continue! (I’m not used to blogs) So when it comes to reading Mark’s books, I know quite of lot of the pieces he writes about, some of which I used to play, and later listen to the Choir perform. I so enjoyed his writing that I would have loved to have been able to contact him and tell him so, but unfortunately I couldn’t find out any information about him until after his death last November, and even that was the Wikipedia entry. He wrote so brilliantly, so humorously, that I could almost imagine being a part of the St Germaine community, getting to know their quirks and foibles. I must be on my fourth time through with them, and they still never fail to make me smile. And I cried when I learned he had died, because I felt that – even though I didn’t know him – I had lost someone who would have been a friend, had I known him. I wish you well in your own career; may you be blessed in it.