Gray sky above: a Sunday afternoon drizzle of rain, mixed with traces of sleet, drools on the US Supreme Court building. A few dozen picketers zig-zag for a few hundred cameras feeding live video to a few thousand TV stations which broadcast to a few million viewers who, with a few exceptions, ignore the show.
But go south and east ... past the tents where campers await a chance to get into the Court tomorrow ... past the Library of Congress, data warehouse to the world ... past the Folger Shakespeare Library, monument to the Bard ... to a lanky red brick structure, St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Forget politics. Today something more important is happening: a concert in memory of Rafe Ronkin. While stained-glass saints look down, fifty people sit near a small stage in the middle of the nave.
Scott Reiss introduces himself and the other two performers, Tina Chancey and Webb Wiggins. The music is from 17th century Europe --- works by Matthew Locke, Jacob Van Eyck, Johann Jacob Froberger, Marin Marais, Giovanni Battista Fontana, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, and Francesco Turini. Scott, Tina and Webb play, respectively, recorders, violi da gamba, and harpsichord. Notes dance counterpoint inside the church.
Rafe Ronkin, the deceased, was a biology professor who moved on to a second career at the National Science Foundation. He took up the recorder in his 50's and was one of Scott's first students. Sometimes, Scott reported, Rafe struggled in frustration to get the music to work out. But he loved making music and kept at it. With a catch in his voice, before starting to play a solo recorder piece Scott holds up his hands and says, "I'd like to dedicate this to you, Rafe --- and today, these are your fingers."
Monday, December 11, 2000 at 06:12:54 (EST) = Datetag20001211