Harold Brown died early this year at the age of 94. This is one of his proteges playing at his memorial service today.
I was raised Unitarian. I often joke to people, “It’s a lentil-based faith”, but the term ‘faith’ is too tidy, really. Unitarians can be Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian. Anything. Growing up, this was both confusing and delightful to me.
With my church-that-was-not-exactly-a-church, Harold Brown’s piano playing sounded like real church music. Sure, we had orange vinyl padding on our Scandinavian-minimalist pews. We had those wall hangings at the front of the sanctuary with the sewn-on things I am still sure are marrow bones. We had Conference, where, twice a year, teenagers gathered to change the world. Hippies, yes. But Harold Brown’s music made services in the sanctuary holy for me. His weekly playing (I think Debussy was a favourite) made valid my faith and my credo.
Thank you, Harold. You were a kind, funny, gentle genius in life. I hope that wherever you are now has a perfectly tuned piano, beautiful acoustics, and a cozy, well-lit place for you to read. We will miss you.