One of the various jobs I worked while living in New York City was as a Sunday Building Manager at a church located on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. It was my responsibility to make sure that there was a smooth transition between worship services and other events on Sundays, and because I worked the entire Sunday, I also became acquainted with the other church congregation that shared the building. By 3pm, Advent Lutheran Church would close up shop and make way for Broadway United Church of Christ.
One of Broadway’s first arrivers each Sunday afternoon was Douglas, the music director. His choir would trickle in shortly after and I would hear them rehearsing their beautiful chorale pieces, many of which seemed likely to be what one may have heard flowing from windows and doors of churches in the Renaissance era.
Douglas and I shared many conversations about music and at one point I told him of my interest in finding a violin. The following Sunday Douglas brought with him a violin that he had inherited from an uncle of his. He told me to play around with it for a week or so to see if I liked it, and if I did that we could talk about it. After playing it just once, I could tell its’ voice was much richer than my student violin that I had been playing since the 7th grade. When I told Douglas of the joy I got from playing his violin, he said, “Brian, you can have that violin, and you don’t owe me anything for it. I have no use for it for I don’t play the violin and I’d rather someone like you were playing it and enjoying it than for it to be stored away in a closet.”
What a gift! I was overjoyed, and I still am. Since the violin had been stored for a while and not played, I figured it might need a tune up, and plus, I was curious what kind of violin Douglas had just passed on to me.
The violin shop was just a few busy blocks from The Juilliard School. Being a folkie and a simple-minded fiddle player, I was a bit intimated walking into that high-class environment. The finely dressed man, however, was very friendly and glad to inform me on the violin. I discovered that the violin was one of many which were shipped to the states in the early 1900’s from German factories, this one in 1901 (coincidently the same year the church building was built). It needed some minor repairs: seems re-glued, a new sound post, and a new bridge fitted. With my job earnings, I was able to pay for the adjustments. I also bought a new bow, so I was set!
After a few months of playing the violin, Douglas invited me to play a violin part on a piece his choir was rehearsing for an upcoming service. I was excited to share it with his congregation and to join the exceptional choir for a lovely piece of music. I nailed the part during the rehearsals. Unfortunately, during the service, I was a bit shaky.
Thank you Douglas for such a memorable gift!
Madeline Fendrick and Brian Peck
We're happy to share with you stories from our journey as artists. Stories from the road, and stories from our home base in Stoughton, WI.
Logo Art by:
Robert Peck (Brian's Dad)
Cover Photos by: