Upcoming Performances

May 13, 5:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, N.C.

June 10
Guest recitalist, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rochester, Minn.

September 23, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, Schantz organ 40th anniversary, Culpeper Baptist Church, Culpeper, Va.

« Making Music City Mixture : Part VI | Main | Making Music City Mixture : Part IV »

Making Music City Mixture : Part V

Part 5 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

Covenant Presbyterian Church

Church music department:
Organ diagram: PDF
Organ specifications: PDF
Organ specifications:
Organ builder:

Paul Magyar, former Director of Music at Covenant, probably had to pull a few strings to get me in for this recording. The congregation is reluctant for the sanctuary to be used for anything other than Sunday worship. Whatever you did, Paul, thank you so very much. (I suspect Paul had help from a former Covenant organist by the name of Rich Mays.)

This church is a phenomenon. Not many modern congregations seek to go all-out with traditional, neo-Gothic architecture for brand-new buildings these days, but this one got it right. The sanctuary, only a few years old, looks like it has been sitting perched high on its hill for many decades. Stonework, woodwork, slate floors, vaulted ceilings, stained glass, magnificent organ casework – it’s all there.

At roughly five miles tall, the organ case is the perfect size.


It is huge, as are the acoustics of the room. That can be tricky to negotiate, but I had to ignore the acoustics, because otherwise I might still be sitting there enjoying it all. The mikes were going to be in the chancel and not out in the room, and so I just had to put on a certain pair of “blinders” and play to the mikes. Here are some photos Susan took during practice sessions:


The organ is incomplete. Big organbuilding projects tend to leave some stops prepared for. I am crossing my fingers that the missing stops really will be installed at some point. Meanwhile, perhaps Covenant organist Thomas Russell shares my frustration at not having a tierce or a clairon on the Great, a voix humaine or clairon on the Swell, or a quintaton, diapason, salicional, or cor anglais 16 on the Positif! But the organ is still a triumph, and the pieces assigned to it come off thrillingly.

At 8:30 Tuesday morning, Rich and I sat down at Covenant and hit the first notes of the project. First up was the Vierne Clair de lune. It was the most successful take of the week, being captured in a single take with a single patch for a pedal splat. If only the rest of them could go as well. From there to the Vierne Toccata. Two full runs and a couple little patches. So far, so good. The d’Aquin Noël snarls away, just like we want. But we ran out of room on the CD, and so the d’Aquin is here:


The Harris Flourish for an Occasion recorded quite well with only a repeated patch or two. It begins the CD with a bang.

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