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James Walker’s sabbatical takes him to Peru

James Walker’s sabbatical takes him to Peru
Monday, May 7, 2007 James Walker

Sabbatical. I need one. Dealing with the complexities of all All Saints — trying to hold it all together — is very challenging work, all the while trying to be a musician.

And that is precisely the focus of my sabbatical: reclaiming my being a musician.

I need to learn some Bach fugues. I’m going to practice the organ and piano every day. I’ve engaged a fine baritone voice teacher and will begin lessons in a couple weeks, to get the instrument in my body reconnected again, in the service of being a more effective conductor.

One of the great joys of the growing program at All Saints has been the addition of our 1:00 PM bilingual (Spanish/​English) liturgy. It has been so energizing to work with Abel Lopez and the brilliant Principal Musician for that service, Dan Cole, along with the amazing musical talent he has brought into those services with many wonderfully diverse singers and instrumentalists.

Learning to speak Spanish 

I’ve been talking about this for years, and I will be doing something about it during sabbatical — learning to speak Spanish … at least a beginning. To start with, I’m enrolling in a 3-​hour-​a-​day, seven-​week summer session course. That should be a good kick-start.

On to Peru and Spanish immersion 

Then I will be spending ten days in Peru, including visiting the ancient city of Machu Picchu. I hope to connect with some musicians there, as well. Later in the sabbatical I will do a Spanish immersion program for several weeks in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Reconnecting

My plans also include reconnecting with church musician colleagues in Los Angeles and on the East Coast. I really feel that I’ve isolated myself in the past few years, and while that sometimes isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t ultimately healthy.

I also want to allow space to just stop and listen — to be — and I feel that will provide the space and internal creative energy for me to do some composing.

Restoration

Continuing education and restorative staff sabbaticals are high values for the Rector. My last sabbatical was in 1998, and though that seems like only yesterday, we’ve crammed a lot of living into those nine years, and I’m so grateful to the Rector and to this community for the opportunity to take a season of Sabbath rest, reflection and rejuvenation.

While I will miss you, I am thrilled that you will be in the capable hands of our brilliant Associate Organist-​Choirmaster, Elizabeth Lenti. She’s been on the job, doing amazing work here, for over two years now, and she is ready for new challenges. I’m also excited and grateful that Zanaida Robles will share conducting responsibilities during this time.