MARK: A Rock Gospel (1975)
On Writing MARK
The MARK musical began as a series of liturgical songs I wrote for the year of Mark, when I was stationed at the Newman Center at UNI, in Cedar Falls. When I was hired by Aquinas Inst. in Dubuque, in 1973, I had the idea to put them together with some new tunes to make a song sequence based on the gospel story. We tested that at Wartburg’s Crude Arts Festival which they ran in the spring. Then, the following year (1974) I made a more complete song cycle and we presented it in the Aula (auditorium) at Aquinas, with wrap-around projected images and dissolve controls. It turned out pretty effective.
That led to two things. I recorded the music for a two-disk LP. I didn’t have any money, so I sold the records on a promise, and used the money to make the recording. I was a little nervous, so that might explain the rather brisk tempo of the recording.
The other result was a chance to audition it with five NY producers. Little came of that, but one suggestion was that I develop the dramatic quality. That resulted in the Loras productions. I added some new tunes and a “conflict” theme. Also a script. The new music has never been recorded, which is too bad.
The first time we did it was in 1987, and I did it with computers and synthesizers. Again, in order to finance the equipment I sold my car. And I turned my bedroom in the basement of Binz (where I lived my first eleven years here in a guest room) into a studio. I put the bed in storage and slept on a futon, which I rolled up at night to move out the equipment. That show sold out each night, I think. Maybe because of the tech innovations.
Because of unnerving tech issues with computers and such, when we did it again in 1999, we did the music live, with a grand piano (the one in the pit), three electronic keyboards/synths, a bass player and a drum kit. That went pretty well considering we never had a practice with all of us together at the same time.
Apart from that, it has been done in some high schools—Dyersville and Bellevue come to mind. I think it is a good show, and I would like to have it done again.
01: The Desert
02: The Call