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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Arthur G. Carvajal

Gordon: When did you join Assumption Catholic Church choir and start playing the trumpet at Mass in addition to singing?

Arthur: I joined Assumption Catholic Church in 1997. When the current choir was formed in 2000, the music director at the time (Sheila McAndrews) asked me to contribute some trumpet preludes and postludes during choir Masses. I’d not played regularly since high school, and this gave me an opportunity to rebuild my embouchure and confidence in playing in public again.

Gordon: How is the music at Mass planned to feature your trumpet?

Arthur: The music director, Maxine Joachim, often asks me to play for Holy Days and special Masses. She selects the music at least a week in advance and suggests the hymns on which I’ll play. Sometimes we add a number or two as a postlude, such as on Independence Day or Easter. We really enjoy performing Battle Hymn of the Republic, America, God Bless America, and other patriotic songs, and the congregation seems to appreciate our effort. Many remain after Mass to listen.

Gordon:  What are some of your favorite religious music compositions featuring the trumpet?

Arthur: I’ve enjoyed playing the melody on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring accompanied by organ and flute. Other composers whose work I’ve enjoyed playing include Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philip Telemann, and Henri Purcell. Popular especially in a church setting are Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark March (Trumpet Voluntary) and Georg Friedrich Handel’s The Rejoicing from Music for the Royal Fireworks.

Gordon: You are a  musician in the Chicago Bar Association’s Symphony Orchestra. How often do you rehearse for a new concert?

Arthur: The orchestra rehearses every Wednesday evening in a large courtroom at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago. Our season runs from September to May, with major concerts in the fall and spring that include the bar association’s chorus. We also have chamber concerts and recitals in between these major concerts, as well as appearances at law-related events, such as Law Day.

I rehearse on my own three to four times a week for an hour or two each time. I consider every rehearsal to be preparation for the next concert. This helps keep me focused and interested during rehearsals. While I enjoy playing for the sake of performing music, I prefer to have a specific objective for the rehearsals. Looking forward to the next concert gives me this sense of purpose.

Chicago Bar Association Symphony and Chorus Performs Carmina Burana

Gordon: You also play trumpet in the Chicago Bar Association’s  Barristers Big Band. What are some of your favorite jazz musicians and could you list a favorite recording by each artist?

Arthur: I became interested in jazz while I was in grade school, and fell in love with Big Band music and the Swing style while I was in high school. So I’m partial to the big bands of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and others like them. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the individual styles of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, trumpeters Chet Baker and Louis Armstrong, and tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, among others. For a good example of their work, I suggest Baker’s performance of Autumn in New York, Armstrong’s West End Blues, and Getz’ solo in The Girl from Ipanema.

My favorite, however, is Bix, who influenced generations of trumpet players after him, including myself. He led an intensely creative but brief life and died in 1931 at the age of 29. His playing is pure and sincere. Listen to him in I’m Coming Virginia, Singing the Blues, and At the Jazz Band Ball for a sample of what he could do with a few bars. But I can recommend any of his recordings for a good example of his work. His playing makes me smile and always makes me feel better for having heard it.

The Barristers Big Band plays "Chattanooga Choo Choo."

Gordon: You are the Executive Editor and General Counsel at WebCE, Inc where, in addition to your writing and editing responsibilities, you also specialize in insurance, intellectual property, employment and labor. Since it may be inappropriate to discuss any of your cases, to provide our readers with some insight into intellectual property litigation, could you comment on Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh v. The Random House Group Limited and the issue about the The Da Vinci Code as an example of an intellectual property case?

Arthur: As counsel for an online publisher, I am interested in protecting my client’s intellectual property rights. As a writer and editor, I value artistic expression. This case, which was heard in the English courts, involved a claim of infringement in which the plaintiffs Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh alleged that Dan Brown used the central theme of their book, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, for his own book, The Da Vinci Code. I’m sure that the great popularity of Brown’s book motivated the plaintiffs to find similarities in the two works.

The trial court found that while portions of Brown’s book were derived from the plaintiffs’ book, there was no central theme to the plaintiffs’ book, and therefore, Brown could not have copied a central theme for his own book. On appeal, the appellate court granted summary judgment for Brown and dismissed the case. It reasoned that one cannot “monopolize historical research or knowledge and prevent the legitimate use of historical and biographical material….” This preserves the freedom of original, artistic expression, even though different authors of that expression may find inspiration in the same source.

Gordon: Please provide our readers with overview of your writing and editing responsibilities.

Arthur: My company principally develops and delivers online training courses for the insurance industry. In my position as an executive editor, I am responsible for the content of our insurance licensing courses that our students take to prepare for their state insurance license examinations. So I research the insurance laws across the country; stay current with legislative developments by attending conferences and meeting with insurance regulators; and write, edit, and manage our insurance training courses.

Through our work, we educate people who know little about insurance and in a matter of a few weeks, enable them to become licensed insurance professionals ready to advise others about insurance products and services. We give our students a chance to make a livelihood and a career if they are willing to work hard for a few weeks. That is very satisfying to me, especially when students tell us that they passed the state license exam and that our course was easy to understand!

Gordon: What initially inspired you to study law?

Arthur: I wanted to enter a profession that offered constant challenge and great satisfaction for work well done, a profession that would provide intellectual stimulation and an opportunity to make a lasting improvement in peoples’ lives and society. In the legal profession, I saw a chance to do this with enduring effect. I wanted to be able to help those who are unable to help themselves or who need a champion, and being educated in the law gives me a special ability to do this.

Although I’m very happy with my career so far, I believe there is much more work to be done if I am to fulfill my aspirations as a lawyer.

Gordon: How does the practice of law strengthen your faith?

Arthur: It often presents me with opportunities to become a better person. When counseling a client, I can present the client with several options and recommend a course of action. A client usually follows my advice. I see what the law allows my client to do, as I am supposed to do as legal counsel. However, as a Catholic lawyer, I also strive to do what is morally and ethically right in a situation.

It's a matter of determining not only what must be done, but also recognizing what should be done. I am fortunate to currently work with attorneys and clients who are good people, and they strive to do the same. I have worked for clients and with other attorneys who sought only what was most advantageous to them, without regard for others or for what might be the greater good. I did not work for or with them for long because that is not how I want to practice my profession.

Gordon: The Catholic Church is facing many serious challenges? Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing Catholics, and just 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God. What, in your opinion, can we do as parishes and as individuals to reverse this trend?

Arthur: I remember the relationship between Christ and the Church, which is described in the Bible in several ways. It is like a bridegroom and a bride (Mt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor. 6:15-17; 2 Cor. 11:2), a vine and its branches (Jn. 15:4-5), and the head and the body (Col. 1:18). We are all connected to each other, unified in the Church through Jesus. I believe that our relationship with Christ and the Church—and with each other as Catholics—compels us to actively practice our faith. It is not enough to simply belong to a parish and attend Mass.

The commitment makes us want to engage ourselves with the Church. Being a practicing Catholic is not particularly easy. I think many people think that because they are not getting anything from it, Catholicism is meaningless to them. I think that is a very selfish perspective. As in any committed relationship, it requires attention, involvement, and compromise. As in any committed relationship, those in it must give and take from it for it to succeed. This is more than simply being a Catholic; it calls upon us to act as Catholics and to be more catholic in the literal sense: more inclusive and embracing of all people. I think this is where the Catholic Church can improve its relations with its own and appeal to those who might want to join the Church.

Gordon: In closing, I owe a big debt to Jim Dion in who profiled you in Assumption Spotlights.

Arthur: I thank you for your time and interest, Gordon


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