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Upcoming Performances

August 20, 3:00 pm Central
Inaugural recitalist, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Enterprise, Ala.

September 10
Guest recitalist, First United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C.

October 1, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Ga.

October 15, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First United Methodist Church, Gastonia, N.C.

March 9, 2018, 12:15 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2018
Guest recitalist, Waldensian Presbyterian Church, Valdese, N.C.

May 13, 2018, 5:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, N.C.

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Sunday
Jun012014

My last days with Clyde Holloway

My interview with Clyde Holloway just came out in the June 2014 issue of The American Organist magazine. After that interview, I was newly inspired to learn more, do more, memorize better. I was even inspired to learn more Messiaen.

I would like to have heard more details about Clyde’s every church job, every school. We didn’t talk much about his training, and so I did not ask about all those little details that so many interviews cover about studying with this or that person. No, I wanted to hear more about those revivals that he and my other teacher H. Max Smith used to play for on the piano and organ. I would love to have heard more about what a drill sergeant Jack Ossewaarde was to work for. I would love to know if Jack’s Dutch name had anything to do with Clyde choosing to study in the Netherlands on his Fulbright. But I never asked.

The last time I saw Clyde was following my recital at Houston Baptist University, September 13, 2013. I closed that recital with one of his specialties, the Sowerby Pageant. After the recital, he said, “You play too fast.” I thought he was referring to general tempos, but he apparently was referring to the Sowerby, because he went on to say, “Sowerby wrote the notes to be exciting; they are perfectly exciting just the way they are. You don’t have to push and pull the tempo to make it more exciting; that just overblows it. You should play it strictly. I played it in Sowerby’s presence three times, and he said I played it better than anyone!” (In his prime, Clyde played a lot of things better than anybody else. I wish I could have heard more of it.) And as it turns out, he was right about Pageant’s tempos; I’m a believer now. Every time Clyde spoke, there was something to learn from him.

That was the last time I saw Clyde. But it wasn’t the last time I spoke with him. A few weeks later, he was working with a classmate of mine, Ann Frohbieter. Ann was preparing to travel to “my house” at Appalachian State to play a recital and to lecture on Jewish organ music. Clyde was helping her prepare registrations on an unfamiliar organ so that she would not be so far behind the curve when she got to my instrument. And he called me about five times that night to ask questions about my console so that they could work within those parameters where they were at the time. The problem was that he was working with her on a 72-rank Aeolian-Skinner from 1949, and I have a 51-rank Casavant from 1984! Huge difference. But I later figured out that he was probably re-living some pleasant memories of preparing huge pieces on huge instruments. I suspect it didn’t help Ann much, but it probably helped Clyde immensely, and since he died about a week later, I don’t begrudge any of it.

Right up to the very end, Clyde was giving and teaching. I had hardly a conversation with him that I didn’t come away with just a little bit more knowledge about our field or a little more insight about his generation. Sometimes, I would avoid talking to him because I didn’t have time for a long story or didn’t want to hear a lecture about how I should be doing something differently. [He and I did disagree on how some things in the organ world work, but I disagreed with him quietly.]

Clyde loved people, and he loved talking. The tributes paid to him in the wake of his death have been moving and loving. He was such a force in the profession that sometimes it was hard to think of him as a real person. And even though I studied with him toward the end of his prime, I nevertheless got the best of his teaching, and I also caught glimpses of both his personality as a lonely-ish fellow and his force as a world-class performer. As I’ve said before, there is very little I do in my work that doesn’t remind me of a teacher or a mentor, and I hope that his training won’t fade in my work or my own teaching.

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