John L. Sorenson
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My earliest recollection of musical experience was probably listening to the radio. Nothing concrete but sometimes the radio was on in our house, The only set I recall was one that my brother Curtis obtained (he was an electrical engineer). He inserted it into a large standing wooden console that had apparently had a previous set in tl Maybe but I don't remember that far back. The equipment Curtis installed produced quite high quality sound. My mother and father had only slight musical sense. I don't recall them, or me, for that matter, turning the set on specifically to listen to music. I suppose what we heard when it was on incidentally was no doubt the popular music of the day, which is what radio stations were playing then. We had a piano in the "front room" that had been obtained (used of course, from whom I don't know) for the use of my sister Ruby. She had some instruction and learned to play as an accompanist quite adequately. But she no longer lived at home. She worked as a secretary (at the Ogden Stockyards) and boarded with a family in Ogden. The only use of the piano was when she came home on many weekends. At one point, maybe when I was 11, I expressed some interest in learning to play piano, and she  gave me a few ad hoc lessons, but I did not have the interest or discipline to carry through. In the 7th grade I was in a singing class at the junior high (who  knows how that came about?) that I quite enjoyed. That was the first time I learned anything (but not much) about musical notation and part singing. During those years and on into high school I was caught up in the pop music of the day. Listening on Saturday evening to "Your Hit Parade" on the radio became a must. I enjoyed "classic" pop-Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Bing Crosby, Glen Miller's orchestra, etc., even verging into jazz. When Randall (four years older) was in high school, I guess, he was involved with other young men of his age in our ward (and a little beyond) with a singing group that made me listen to some more serious music. It was organized around  conductor Willard Thornley, a (single) near neighbor. They were called the Ave Verum chorus and sang mainly sacred music, both LDS and classical. They gave many concerts around Cache Valley and performed on the Logan radio station (which was often desperate for time-occupying artistry!). (The conductor had other concerns. When he was in the medics in the military during WWII he came half way out of the closet as a homosexual.) I heard music through that group some of which was interesting to me. In fact when I was in high school I joined the ward choir and somewhat liked it. My patriarchal blessing, given when I was 16, said that I had some musical gift, but at that time I never exploited whatever my gift consisted of. Somewhere along the line I had begun to enjoy serious (""classical") music, at least the lighter aspects of it. Overall I was pretty eclectic in my developing tastes. By the time I was in the Air Force (1943-46) and in training at Cal Tech in Pasadena, I attended most of the concerts by the Pasadena Symphony, a community organization of substantial quality (concerts were free to servicemen). Later, in Natal, Brazil, I found a radio station that played classical music at bedtime; I listened regularly. Of course there were gaps, like on my mission, when I heard almost no music. When Kathryn and I had our own little family, we bought a small 45-rpm plaher and had a few discs, my long-term favorite, Beethoven's Leonore overture, being one. (Jeffrey had some children's discs that he played on that machine.) during the busy, busy  years that followed I have no recollection of any part that music played in my life. I still enjoyed classical music but could invest little listening time. When we built our house in American Fork (middle 1970s), I again joined the ward choir and got much pleasure from it. Our conductor was a very competent music teacher and the choir was well above average in quality. When she undertook to have  us sing long selections from Handel's Messiah, I was  doubtful about the possibility, but in fact it turned well and for me was rather memorable. I served as "president" of the choir organization at this time. Not until the relative leisure of my retirement years (1986 and beyond), although I still "went to the office" daily and worked hard, mainly on Book of Mormon-related matters, did I put in new effort in listening.  I had a random collection of LPs (look them up if you don't know what they were!), a mid-sized player at the office, and had on KBYU's classical music station through most days. My favorites were Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Faure (especially his organ symphony) and other French composers. But also Art Tatum, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, and Dave Brubeck. As rock music came on the scene, my attitude was one somewhere between quiet scorn and impatient distaste. As variant forms have continued to develop I have found no reason to change my opinion. That whole spectrum of genres is of absolutely no interest to me. They seem as pointless as "country music." But some 20 years ago I cultivated anew an interest in big band sounds and in classic jazz and enjoyed them a good deal. When my sister Ruby was 80, I could not believe how completely her lifetime of musical performance and listening had been turned off. She simply no longer had any interest in even listening to music. Now I understand. Now I too almost never listen to music, of any genre. And I guess I don't particularly miss it. It seems only an episode in my life that I have passed through, to advantage, rather like riding a bicycle, being an anthropologist, collecting art, or.serving as a bishop. And so life goes on.
Reminiscenses by John L. Sorenson