Upcoming Performances

July 18
10:00 am Eastern

Collaborative Organist, Organ/Brass concert, William Adam International Trumpet Festival, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

August 25
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Church of the Savior, Newland, N.C.

September 17
8:00 pm Eastern

Faculty recital, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

Music at Midday, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

« Making Music City Mixture : Planning | Main | You make it look so easy! »

Making Music City Mixture

Part 1 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.


Why Nashville? And why all mechanical action instruments?

In the summer of 1995, the Nashville chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) hosted the biennial convention for Region IV, the South. That convention was my first – and in many ways my favorite – AGO convention. There were thrilling performances on equally thrilling organs, and I discovered my bliss in assembling with people in the profession. In a trice, I was hooked on AGO conventions and have attended at least one each year ever since. During that convention, I also discovered that Nashville is not all country music. There are splendid organs, fine choirs, and a first-rate symphony orchestra. There are beautiful, acoustically vibrant churches populated with outstanding musicians. Nashville had awakened in me a new perspective on my profession, as well as a new perspective on the musical life of the city itself.

Fast-forward to 2006, where it was announced during the AGO national convention in Chicago that the Nashville chapter would be hosting the national in 2012. The memories of 1995 came flooding back, and wheels began turning. I immediately sought out Bill Gray, the 2012 convention coordinator. I told him my story of “coming to life” during the Nashville regional and that I wanted to help with this one. So I joined the chapter as a dual member, and my years of service with the AGO National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance made me a good choice to serve on the onsite competition committee during the convention. Meanwhile, I began looking for an additional way to celebrate the fact that my convention attendance was about to come full circle, back to Nashville. A compilation recording of Nashville organs came to mind and kept coming to mind. Music City Mixture is the result.

This narrative involves the rapid tossing about of numerous names, venues, and organ builders. A dramatis personae is offered here:


Rich Mays, Sonare Recordings, project engineer and producer, Savannah

Jennie Lou Smith and James Gooch, housing hosts for Rich and me, Nashville

Susan Murphey, M.D., my wife and tireless cheerleader, who took many photos, designed some graphics, and suffered with me through finishing up the myriad little details that drive us both crazy

Daniel E. and Jane Gawthrop. Dan is the prolific organ and choral composer whose output includes the hugely popular Sing me to heaven, as well as the Three Floral Preludes on this recording. Jane is an undisputed expert in graphics and publicity – and organists. Without these two, my fame would have gone no further than the nearest county line.

Bradley Gawthrop, brilliant organ builder, graphics designer, and all-around thinker. He designed, and his firm’s Opus 1 at First Presbyterian Church in Boone, N.C., will be a must-hear.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, home of a III/58 C. B. Fisk organ, Op. 134, 2009
- Paul Magyar, former Director of Music Ministries, now Associate Pastor for Music and Worship at Central Baptist Church, Knoxville

First Presbyterian Church, home of a III/49 Beckerath organ, 1974
Rhonda Swanson, Assistant Organist

Second Presbyterian Church, home of a II/21 Juget-Sinclair organ, Op. 26, 2007
- David Bridges, Director of Music
- Sarah White, Church Administrator

First Lutheran Church chapel, home of a II/10 Wolff et Associés organ, Op. 42, 1998
- Mark Beall, Director of Music

St. Andrew’s Anglican Parish, home of a II/13 Visser-Rowland (Visser & Associates) organ, Op. 102, 1993
- Carl Smith, Organist and Choirmaster

Wightman Chapel, Scarritt-Bennett Center, home of a II/37 Casavant-Frères organ, 1970
- Jennie Lou Smith, Organist

 The following two websites are rich sources for information and photos of many Nashville organs. Visit often, and feast your eyes:

Photography by Stein

Nashville AGO (click “Area Organs” in the left sidebar.)

Up next in Part 2: Planning

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