Upcoming Performances

December 1
3:00 pm Eastern

Messiah organist, First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, N.C.

December 3
8:00 pm Eastern

Haydn Creation organist, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

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

February 9, 2020
3:00 pm Eastern

Inaugural recitalist, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Columbia, S.C..

February 16, 2020
5:00 pm Eastern

Evensong recitalist, Church of the Ascension, Hickory, N.C..

March 6, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tenn.

April 5, 2020
2:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, Ga.

April 18, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Concerto organist, Milligan College

May 12, 2020
12:35 pm Central

Tuesday Series recitalist, Church of St. Louis, King of France, Minneapolis, Minn.

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

« Congregating | Main | Nerding out »

Taking a Longview of things

My latest recording, an all-British program, is about to come out on the Centaur label. Here are some thoughts that didn’t fit in the allocated space in the liner notes:

Say “Longview” to most any organist, and their eyes will glaze over in a semi-trance of ecstasy. Any organ nerd who has read this far now knows where this recording was made, assuming they didn’t infer it from the title of the post.

Churches are interesting to different people for different reasons. Architects, pastors, Christians, and organists take their own pleasure out of exploring these monuments constructed to the Almighty. And if there is a fine pipe organ to be found within, then the organist is in an even deeper nirvana. The First Baptist Church of Longview, Texas, is an example. The drive up to the building is awesome enough, with its towering roofline and all-brick construction in what some might call “Modern Gothic” (not Gothic Revival). Upon entrance into the narthex and into the center aisle, one is greeted by the airiest, most resplendent space of light, lightness, and weightiness in all the right places. It is an astounding space for worship, fellowship, and unplugged sound. The architecture never gets old. I have stepped into that space countless times, and it takes my breath away every time, even after something so mundane as a bathroom break. And it’s all accomplished with brick and stained glass. Perhaps the one thing the room could have benefitted even more from would be exposed pipework.

Chances are that organists might not know about the room if not for Aeolian-Skinner Op. 1174 housed within it. A G. Donald Harrison signature, unaltered, it is its own monument to Harrison, to American organ building, and to that magnificent heyday that church music enjoyed a generation ago. The space and its resident instrument are perfect. The sense of history an organist feels in a space like that is perhaps completely foreign to any other observer. We organists understand that churches cannot live on organ and acoustics alone. But we continue to owe it to ourselves and our students to understand the accomplishment reflected in this organ and its sisters nationwide. To that end, the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, headquartered in nearby Kilgore, Texas, celebrates each year this and other landmark instruments, the products of the perfect storm of America’s leading organ building firm Aeolian-Skinner, that firm’s president and tonal director G. Donald Harrison, and regional representative and extraordinary designer and voicer Roy Perry. To the casual worshipper, the First Baptist Church of Longview represents a quiet miracle in many lives. But to organists, it represents one of the most heralded miracles in our history.

For more tidbits on this organ and my friendship with it, search "Longview" on this website. And see the liner notes when the recording comes out.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend