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.

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Owning an “Allen-Skinner”

My house is a wreck right now. It’s full of scattered parts of Aeolian-Skinner Op. 1457-B, from Clyde Holloway’s estate. Many people have asked what I’ll do with the Allen sitting in the other corner of the living room. The answer is that I’m keeping it. The two organs feed my midlife need for toys, I suppose. But the two organs will also complement each other.

The Aeolian-Skinner represents a history that I love. It also represents the man to whom I owe my entire career. Every time I sit down at it, I will think of him preparing pieces in his stellar career, hour after hour, and teaching me how to do the same. But this organ is limited. It doesn’t have pistons, a box, a playback system, or a headphone jack. But I can use it to learn notes and then move to the Allen to practice gadgetry.

The Allen has a playback system; I don’t have to set up a recording device. It also has a headphone jack, so that I don’t disturb Sleeping Beauty. It also has pistons and expression shoes to practice with. It is pedagogically useful with alternate temperaments. So you can’t beat some technology. I don’t understand the school that says “pipe or nothing.” When it comes to practicing, one should take advantage of all available resources to get things right. I have no shame when it comes to that.

Truth be told, neither of these organs is completely perfect, because neither has three manuals. I have said before that two manuals were enough to learn notes. They still are. But having three manuals allows you to practice three-manual music, without leaving some things to be done at the performance site. So I suppose it will be time for a new Allen before long. But not today.

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