Echoes of Zen

Our string of encounters with Japanese culture had another sequel when Glenn Swann played his shakuhachi flutes during the first Lunchtime Recital in April. Our music director Ben Berman accompanied him on the piano for two pieces, but for three other pieces the meditative sound of the bamboo flutes filled our sanctuary alone.

And what a sound it was! Even the young students from the Livingston school were spellbound by the music. During Questions & Answers, one little girl compared Mr. Swann’s mastery of the instrument with her own experience on the violin: “How long does it take to learn the basic fingering?” she wanted to know.

During the same conversation, I asked two boys to show us New Jersey and Japan on a map, so that we could all appreciate the geographic distance. Glenn then showed us a sample of the Japanese sheet music for his flutes. He explained that there are approximately 30 characters replacing traditional western notes. He also said that these characters are different for all the traditional Japanese instruments. Thus, a flute player will not automatically be able to read the music of any of the Japanese string instruments or even the Japanese horn.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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