Upcoming Performances

July 12, 8:30 pm Central European
Guest recitalist, Cathedral, Rieux-Volvestre, France

July 22, 7:00 pm Eastern
Petr Eben Windows with James Stokes, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Boone, N.C.

August 26, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, Church of the Savior, Newland, N.C.

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

September 28, 7:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, Camp Hill Presbyterian Church, Camp Hill, Penn.

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Olympic form?

The more organ recitals I attend, the more sensitive I become to a perceived apathy from performers. Picture, say, any Bach trio Sonata or the Duruflé Toccata. Wild rides. Fingers and feet flying everywhere. And yet an organist finds the time in the heat of battle to hang his/her feet on the bar across the bottom of the bench. Several thoughts fly through my head at that point: 1) Do those feet really have nowhere else to go? Do they not have some notes over which they might hover, instead? 2) Is this organist bored? With a trio Sonata????!! 3) Is this organist prepared? 4) You know, in some cultures, it would be considered rude to show the soles of your feet in public...

Regardless the questions that go through my head or the answers to them, when that happens I have become distracted from the music, and that's not good. No Olympian is allowed to stop and rest during the race. Singers are not allowed to break character during an aria to drink water or rest their backs. Why, then, should it be permissible for an organist to allow hands or feet to "check out" of the proceedings and go to a neutral corner during a very non-neutral musical activity? To this writer, that sends a subtle message of apathy or maybe even "OMG" to the listener.

I am one of the fussiest organists I know. After you have something sounding good, go one more step and make sure it LOOKS good, too. Sit up tall. Sit more or less still. Punch pistons in character. Keep hands out of lap. Keep feet off the bench bar. Don't lunge for notes and pistons and the box -- be there; plan ahead.

Fun activity: compare the most popular performing organists. Which ones physically stay in the game during a piece, and which ones check out here and there? It might be instructive to notice that at the next recital you attend or even play. Constantly assess why the popular organists are so popular.

Overly fussy? Not at today's tuition rates! Offer students the sort of attention to detail they might not get everywhere. A great organist needs to be able to do much more than just play pretty.

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