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Upcoming Performances

May 5, 7:30 pm Central
Guest recitalist, First United Methodist Church, Pine Bluff, Ark.

June 4, 7:30 pm Eastern
ASU studio recital, Summerall Chapel, The Citadel, S.C.

June 7
Guest recitalist, Hall of Philosophy, Mt. Gretna, Penn.

June 11, 3:00 pm Eastern
Recital and Evensong, St. Mary of the Hills Church, Blowing Rock, N.C.

July 2, 6:00 pm
Guest recitalist, Our Lady of the Assumption, Cazères, France

July 18
Guest recitalist, Church of St. Jacques, Muret, France

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.

September 16
William Shuford birthday concert, First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, 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.

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

Entries in Music City Mixture (9)

Monday
Sep172012

Making Music City Mixture: An unforeseen epilogue

Part seven of this series was to have been the end of it. But the story has more to say:

Picture it: May 2012. Music City Mixture is ready for me to peddle at the organists’ convention. Promotional information is prepared. Free copies of my previous recording Live Performances are ordered and on their way to be inserted into convention tote bags. An announcement card for the new recording is printed up with the special convention price, also to be inserted into convention tote bags. And just for good measure, I have had fresh copies of my promotional brochure printed, also to be inserted into convention tote bags. There is a “party” with friends where we stuff promo CDs, announcement cards, and Joby brochures into two thousand little plastic bags. I ship those little guys off to the convention city, where they will be dropped into convention tote bags for all attendees. What a publicity coup! Imagine the mileage we’ll get out of this! Imagine people arriving at the convention, finding those materials in their tote bag, seeking me out, and purchasing a copy of the new CD! And the national “release party” for Music City Mixture is an enormous success! Master of the universe in the house!

Now picture what really happened: When I arrived for the convention, I discovered that all those promotional materials had not been dropped into the tote bags, after all. They were still sitting in the receiving warehouse, where they did not see the light of day again until convention day two.

So now imagine the sudden uselessness of all that publicity. Imagine all the money and time invested. Imagine two thousand giveaway previous CDs sitting forgotten in a warehouse, and one thousand brand new CDs in my car, now with no buyers who know about it.

My first order of business to salvage this was to retrieve all those publicity materials, which I did. After that, I was in no mood to stay and enjoy the convention, and so I took my bitterness elsewhere. I hadn’t intended to tell this tale publicly, but the passage of time has brought to light some lessons learned and new things to try that are worth airing:

1. The two thousand giveaway CDs, Live Performances, intended for convention tote bags, are still available for giveaway. I’ll be hauling them to recital engagements, family reunions, workshops, doctors’ offices, etc., and giving them to any interested people. Meanwhile it is also available for FREE download by clicking HERE. http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/JobyBell

2. Of course, you'll still find the new CD, Music City Mixture, available as planned by clicking HERE.

3. I am preparing a mass email to all convention attendees, to announce Music City Mixture. (The special convention price no longer applies.)

4. Meanwhile, I have been plunged into uncharted territory, such as questioning for the very first time the usefulness of the national organization to my career, reconsidering my eagerness to accept service opportunities in it, reconsidering my love of conventions over which I was so enthusiastic in the first post of this series, considering attending other organizations’ conventions, and withholding my trust in others for longer initial periods from now on.

5. HOWEVER: This incident put my quota for grudges over the limit! Were I to add this grudge to all my existing ones, I would start to have trouble keeping up and remembering who’s who. And so one day I found a strange calm in letting all those grudges go, in an instant. You know, folks, when all this is over, the cockroaches will be the only ones left, and I can learn to get over a few first-world problems along the way. I have felt better since arriving at that place of peace. I even accepted a Facebook friend request that I had left untouched for months, from someone who treated me most unprofessionally and uncharitably several years ago. Although I will not mistake a grudge for unfinished business, and although I will always be astounded by how easily Music City Mixture’s initial publicity was derailed, I can let go of the little stuff better. My doctor should be pleased with my blood pressure numbers from now on. Meanwhile, Music City Mixture is still available by clicking HERE, and I appreciate your support in purchasing it.

And NOW this series really is ended. Many millions of thanks to Bradley Gawthrop for slapping the software around to accommodate all these photos and sound files. Splendid work.

Wednesday
Aug152012

Making Music City Mixture : Part VII

Part 7 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

Wightman Chapel, Scarritt-Bennett Center

Homepage: http://www.scarrittbennett.org/default.asp
Organ photos: http://www.PhotographyByStein.com/nashvilleorgans/wightmanchapel/wightmanchapmain.htm
Organ specifications: http://www.nashvilleago.org/AreaOrgans/Specs/Scarritt.htm
Organ builder: http://Casavant.ca/

I love neo-Gothic college campuses, and Scarritt-Bennett used to be a college. I’m glad the buildings are still being lovingly used, even if not for education. The chapel remains busy for weddings (Jennie reported more than 70 one year), and the organ remains in decent shape, despite having some years on it and not a lot of budget to keep it young.

While Jennie was enthusiastic about my recording there, she warned me as gently as she could that the Casavant might not sound very good these days. When I had played it for a few minutes on Monday, I concurred. But I played some more and discovered that most of the problems lie in the reeds (dirty and old) and in the upper work (Orgelbewegung), which I could easily avoid. When I chose to stay primarily at 4-foot and below, the organ sprang to life. The Buxtehude Praeludium took on a fresh assertiveness, and the Sweelinck Variants, recorded there purely on a lark, very nearly replaced the take at St. Andrew’s! You can hear the Wightman take here:

Finally, just for fun, here are some clips of videos Susan captured during practice times:

I’m practicing Bobo at First Presbyterian, d’Aquin at Covenant Presbyterian, and the Gigout Scherzo (not recorded) at Covenant Presbyterian.

* * *

I am glad to have extracted and captured some of Nashville’s beauty on this recording and in these supplemental materials. I hope all these organs have been given a stronger voice for themselves and a pleasant hearing for you on Music City Mixture.

Tuesday
Aug142012

Making Music City Mixture : Part VI

Part 6 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

First Lutheran Church

Church: http://First-Lutheran-Nashville.org/
Organ photos: http://www.PhotographyByStein.com/
Organ specifications: http://www.NashvilleAGO.org/AreaOrgans/Specs/FirstLutheranChpl.htm
Organ builder: http://www.OrgelWolff.com/
Organ builder: http://alambix.uquebec.ca/musique/orgues/wolff.html#Instrum 

I visited First Lutheran on Monday to practice. Director of Music Mark Beall was a most gracious host, and he enjoyed chatting with Rich about recording equipment when we came back to record on Wednesday.

 The Wolff in the chapel is one of those experiences every organist ought to have. Depending on your perspective, you could imagine yourself somewhere in Europe, where the stairs to the organ are winding and tiny, and the loft is tight. Or you could imagine yourself, as I did, at the charming 1865 all-cedar Wandke organ in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top, Tex! Here is a photo of me at the real thing in Nashville:

I knew immediately that the Bach A Major Prelude & Fugue would be lovely here, as would the Froberger Canzona. The CD did not have enough room for the Froberger, and so it is here:

Download

 

Monday
Aug132012

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: http://www.CovenantPres.com/
Church music department: http://www.CovenantPres.com/
Photos: http://www.photographybystein.com/
Organ diagram: PDF
Organ specifications: PDF
Organ specifications: http://www.nashvilleago.org/
Organ builder: http://www.CBFisk.com/

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:

Download

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

Sunday
Aug122012

Making Music City Mixture : Part IV

Part 4 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

Second Presbyterian Church

Church: http://www.SecondPresbyterian.net/
Organ specifications: http://www.Juget-Sinclair.com/opus26.html
Organ specifications: http://www.nashvilleago.org/AreaOrgans/Specs/SecondPres.htm
Organ builder: http://www.Juget-Sinclair.com

Sunday afternoon, after finishing practicing at First Presbyterian, it was off to uncharted waters at Second Presbyterian. The church is in a newish building that imparts a bit of a beach house look inside, with bamboo flooring, pastel walls, and indirect lighting. It all has a “cooling” effect on the observer. Here are some photos from the church website:

The Juget-Sinclair is buried treasure. Its large two-manual specification is an unending source of inspiration, and piece after piece kept presenting itself for successful inclusion. The organ played everything beautifully. With the near-instantaneous addition of this fine organ to the project, many plans had to be made – and fast. What to choose? What to move from another organ to this one? The recording bears out the final decisions. Here are some photos Susan took during practice sessions:


Although we spoke on the phone, I didn’t get to meet Director of Music David Bridges, but church Administrator Sarah White was most helpful and gracious. This church wins the prize for last-minute hospitality, and Music City Mixture is better for it.

We recorded at Second Presbyterian on Tuesday, late in the day. Although I’m confessing now to being tired by then that day, I hope the Bach E Major Toccata doesn’t give it away too much! The action of the Juget-Sinclair is comfortable, if a bit feather light. The suspended action is sensitive, and for a fellow who plays on an electro-pneumatic organ most of the time, it was all too easy to graze wrong notes. Which I did. In abundance. We worked a good bit to clean up some spots in the Bach E Major. We also worked on the Bach Gigue Fugue, for which the pedal always seemed to be behind, even though the pedal action is firm and shallow. Might have been the pedal reed, some delay on whose speech you might be able to hear in the Bach E Major. The CD did not have room for the Gigue Fugue, but it is here: 

 Download

The first two of the Gawthrop Floral Preludes recorded relatively quickly. But we reached an impasse on the third one. The quick-moving chords of that movement present many opportunities for fingers to hit cracks and graze wrong notes. Which I did. In abundance. It reached the point where I called Dan Gawthrop and apologized for the possibility of having only two of the pieces represented. But the next day during First Presbyterian’s recording sessions, the idea came to record the third one there, on a more resistant action. Worked beautifully. Problem solved. Called Dan back with the good news.

Wednesday
Jun272012

Making Music City Mixture : Part III

Part 3 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

First Presbyterian Church

Church: http://www.FPCNashville.org/
Church music department: http://www.FPCNashville.org/music.htm
Organ article: http://www.FPCNashville.org/Organ.htm
Organ specifications: http://www.FPCNashville.org/OrganSpecifications.htm
Organ specifications: http://www.nashvilleago.org/AreaOrgans/Specs/FPCNashville.htm
Organ builder: http://www.Beckerath.com/

After practicing at St. Andrew’s on Sunday, it was off to First Presbyterian to register the Bobo Appalachian Prelude, the Rheinberger Sonata, and the Gawthrop Three Floral Preludes. I also roughed in the registrations for a few other pieces, in case any other organ proved to be un-recordable (none did). Here are some photos Susan took during practice sessions:

The First Presbyterian campus is a marvel of traditional Georgian architecture, handsomely situated on top of a huge, rolling hill. Rhonda Swanson, organist, extended the finest hospitality to me and was a complete delight to work with. She clearly loves the Beckerath organ and the congregation she serves and was very helpful with registrational and tuning issues. She also introduced me to the veritable gold mine of organ photos on Ken Stein’s website. Ken is a member of the Nashville AGO chapter, and he freely posts his photos for all to enjoy. You’ll find links in this narrative to many pages of his website. A must-see.

Also at First Presbyterian is a Casavant positif organ. The Froberger Canzona would have been perfect on that one, but alas, low A on the 8-foot was dead. Too bad – that would have been tasty icing on the recording’s cake. (The Froberger found its champion at First Lutheran.)

The Beckerath is both a nightmare and pure joy. I have never encountered an organ that “draws” as much as this one does. Physics of sound for two pipes of the same pitch being installed very close to each other dictate that they might “draw” each other into tune – or out of it. So you can’t use principals and flutes of the same pitch from the same division together on this organ. The joy is that this organ is so richly voiced that you don’t need all those wind-robbing flutes in large ensembles – the organ fills the room beautifully with its pure principal choruses. Beckerath probably knew that; the drawing was probably just an added bonus toward ensuring success!

Another mild nightmare at First Presbyterian is in the piston layout. There are multiple memory levels but only six general pistons. The thumb pistons are spread quite far apart from each other, say, a couple inches or more. The general toe studs are located a bit too far to the left and are jumbled up rather than in the straight lines of the thumbs. And one of them didn’t work reliably – so that meant being able to trust only five toe generals. But the tonal finishing of this organ more than makes up for its somewhat eccentric console layout.

Another joy of the Beckerath is in how it lovingly envelops you in its arms. Literally. You sit among the divisions of the organ as a part of them. Above you is Great. In front of you is Swell. Behind you is Positif. To your right is Pedal. And to your left is the church choir.

You are truly wrapped up in music at this organ!

This organ had the steepest learning curve for registration – what sounds right at the console is probably not right in the room. Rich and I spent all day Thursday recording there. We had the Rheinberger Fantasia-Sonata, the Bobo Appalachian Prelude, and the third of the Gawthrop Three Floral Preludes to record. (I had prepared all three Gawthrop Preludes here and at Second Presbyterian. I preferred Second, but the third Prelude didn’t work there due to pilot error, which I will explain later.) We spent a good deal of time figuring out the “drawing” issues of the Beckerath and re-registering accordingly. As my “ears” out in the room, Rich was also able to inform me that this or that balance may sound great at the console but is overblown in the mikes. We also spent a good deal of time taking and re-taking some difficult notes in the Gawthrop that took advantage of my fatigue and decided to go AWOL.

I feel the final results on this organ are stunning. This organ takes its rightful place among the stars of the show. The Rheinberger, one of my favorite pieces, gets a loving but commanding rendition. And the third of the Gawthrop Floral Preludes is just good fun, as it should be. The various solo colors made the Bobo come alive, but alas, the CD did not have room for it. That was perhaps the most painful cut I had to make. Fortunately, it is here:

 

Download

While I celebrate the beauty of all the instruments I worked on, this one has a special place for being so elegant in its versatility.

Up next in Part 4: Second Presbyterian Church

Monday
Jun252012

Making Music City Mixture : Part II

St. Andrew’s Anglican Parish

Church: http://StAndrewsNashville.org/
Organ photos: http://www.PhotographyByStein.com/nashvilleorgans/standrews/standrewsmain.htm
Organ specifications: PDF: Specification
Organ builder: http://www.VisserAssociates.com/

We hit the road to Nashville on Saturday, October 8, 2011. Sunday and Monday, October 9-10, were practice days, and we recorded Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 11-13.

First stop on Sunday was St. Andrew’s to practice. Church was over around 11:30, which would give me plenty of time to make friends with the Visser-Rowland, register the Sweelinck Variants and then get over to First Presbyterian at the end of its service, to practice and be done for the day. Or so I thought.

The rapturous smell of incense hung in the air at St. Andrew’s, and I knew that Carl Smith was right where he wanted to be in that congregation. As is the case for many liturgically-minded congregations these days, attendance and contributions are down, but the church is bravely soldiering on in its time-honored traditions.

Carl asked if I was planning to record on the Juget-Sinclair at Second Presbyterian. I had not heard of that church at all, but I am familiar with Juget-Sinclair and knew that I had to pursue this one! So I immediately got on the phone with David Bridges at Second Presbyterian. He was most accommodating and was able to secure Session approval for me to record there. I visited the church later that same afternoon, after practicing at First Presbyterian. So Sunday got longer! But the project got more interesting, a deserving organ got included, and we all have Carl Smith to thank for it. I also mused on how careful I had been to contact venues months in advance to make this recording, and yet I had overlooked a treasure of an organ but was able to add it with less than a day’s notice. How these things go.

Practicing at St. Andrew’s was a bit like going back to my days in Houston. Visser-Rowland’s shop (now Visser & Associates) is in Houston, and I spent a lot of time there during my graduate school years. I saw many an organ on the shop floor much like the one at St. Andrew’s, and I learned a great deal about organ building from Pieter Visser, who always warmly welcomed me to the shop. I remember during the 1995 AGO regional convention in Nashville going over to St. Andrew’s to seek out Pieter’s only instrument in town, to enjoy a bit of Houston in Nashville. I am glad this organ could be included on this recording.

Wednesday evening’s recording session at St. Andrew’s was quick. The organ does its job without protest. You’ll hear in the Sweelinck Variants on “Est-ce Mars” on the recording how well this organ “speaks Dutch.” After all, its builder is Dutch.

Saturday
Jun232012

Making Music City Mixture : Planning

Part 2 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

Planning

I have self-recorded for many years – things like practice sessions and run-throughs to catch those things one may not hear in the heat of battle. Recording like that is always instructive, minimally time-intensive – and intimidating. I always dread listening to my own playing as an audience member; it makes me more nervous than walking out to play a recital for organists. But after all those years, plus making three previous recording (two of which were not released) the exercise of listening to a professional recording opened up a new idea: at one point during our Nashville sessions, Rich Mays had me listen back to a passage that he as an organist thought needed to be phrased/shaped/lifted here and there. I listened and concluded, “It sounds like ME. Let’s keep it.” With that, I arrived at the words to express what I had thought for years about performing and recording: Sound like yourself – communicate what you have to say, and the listening audience will hear it.

This project was conceived with a much grander number of instruments intended for inclusion. We were going to record on all the big ones and virtually all the pretty ones. But these multi-venue projects have a way of defining their own parameters as things progress. The project started getting unwieldy and focus-poor. Add to that the logistical nightmare of coordinating schedules among so many venues for only one available week of recording sessions. One roadblock led to another, red tape increased in some places, and unreturned phone calls and emails languished in others (names withheld here, but I am this close…). Engineer and producer Rich Mays saved the day when he noticed our thoughts and plans kept returning to the same handful of deserving organs, all of which also happened to be mechanical action. An accident in one way, but a wonderful re-definition of the project! By paring down to the “trackers,” the project’s focus sharpened immediately, and everything carried on much more smoothly from that point on. I backtracked to the “electric action” venues and told them we were scaling back. Everyone understood completely, and I did not encounter a sourpuss anywhere. That is a phenomenon that does not exist everywhere, dear Reader, but I have come to appreciate it so much from the Nashville chapter.

What music to record? And where to record each piece? I believe a recital instrument is much easier to plan for than a recording instrument. With a recital, I get a one-time shot to play for the audience, maybe an archive recording of it is captured, and it’s over. With a recording instrument, everything is laid bare in perpetuity to be played and replayed by any number of listeners (and critics). I chose a large handful of music and started practicing, pondering, and paring down. This piece might work here, this piece might work there, this piece would work anywhere, this piece is too hard, this piece will pair well with this one, and so on. Decisions were made, and off we went to Nashville. You’ll find program notes for all the pieces at the Program Notes tab of this website.

The Gawthrops and I talked and re-talked about a recording title. We made attempts at tying in “Music City” with “mechanical action” or with “the Athens of the South” or with my last name. Of course, the hare-brained titles started showing up, and the laughter derailed the proceedings for a while. “Bell Plays Nashville Belles,” “A Music City Bell,” and so forth. “A Mechanic Visits the Music City” made me sound non-musical (but my father attended mechanic school in Nashville, which would have brought things full-circle in a different way). Shooting a photo of me in a tux in the middle of a Nashville horse farm just didn’t seem to do it for us, either. Showing me leaning against all six organs was a little more appealing:

Showing me leaning against the Parthenon replica in Nashville’s Centennial Park, with pipes from the six organs peeking between the columns, was even more appealing:

But we were afraid the casual observer wouldn’t get the reference (“What do those columns have to do with anything?”). Enter Bradley Gawthrop, who offered “Music City Mixture.” Everyone froze and made the quick mental trip to the double entendre of ‘mixture’ denoting both an organ stop and this compilation. Perfect. The title was settled. There is a reason I surround myself with people smarter than I.

Lodging had been worked out months before. I was all set to choose a hotel more or less centrally located to the venues. But when I made initial contact with Jennie Lou Smith about recording on the Casavant in Wightman Chapel, not only did she give an enthusiastic Yes to the project, but she also immediately offered the use of her home, right in town. So the lodging question was now settled, much more cheaply and far more luxuriously! In addition to Jennie’s refreshing straightforwardness and encyclopedic knowledge of organists far and wide, there were two delights involved with staying in her elegant home. Her husband, James Gooch, estate-planning attorney by day, is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Nashville Symphony. Imagine the lively and stimulating conversations with this engaging and charming couple! Despite the pressures of hitting all the right notes and hoping that organs were in tune and the rooms quiet, the lodging arrangements and the company we kept could not have been more revitalizing. Another unexpected delight was in playing their piano for hours. James loves Beethoven Sonatas and all manner of Romantic fare, as do I, and I was all too happy to oblige with playing for him and Jennie. It is remarkable how playing the piano became a great way to relax during an organ recording project. We enjoyed conversations on great music, and I was delighted to have introduced Jennie to the Rachmaninoff Moment Musical in D-flat. Surely in-home musicales like that had to have been the delight of the great composers back in the day. There is something more than mildly invigorating about gathering around music to unwind after a long day. That, plus red wine or Scotch.

Up next in Part 3: First Presbyterian Church

Friday
Jun222012

Making Music City Mixture

Part 1 of a multi-part narrative of my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Music City Mixture is available here.

**********************

Why Nashville? And why all mechanical action instruments?

In the summer of 1995, the Nashville chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) hosted the biennial convention for Region IV, the South. That convention was my first – and in many ways my favorite – AGO convention. There were thrilling performances on equally thrilling organs, and I discovered my bliss in assembling with people in the profession. In a trice, I was hooked on AGO conventions and have attended at least one each year ever since. During that convention, I also discovered that Nashville is not all country music. There are splendid organs, fine choirs, and a first-rate symphony orchestra. There are beautiful, acoustically vibrant churches populated with outstanding musicians. Nashville had awakened in me a new perspective on my profession, as well as a new perspective on the musical life of the city itself.

Fast-forward to 2006, where it was announced during the AGO national convention in Chicago that the Nashville chapter would be hosting the national in 2012. The memories of 1995 came flooding back, and wheels began turning. I immediately sought out Bill Gray, the 2012 convention coordinator. I told him my story of “coming to life” during the Nashville regional and that I wanted to help with this one. So I joined the chapter as a dual member, and my years of service with the AGO National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance made me a good choice to serve on the onsite competition committee during the convention. Meanwhile, I began looking for an additional way to celebrate the fact that my convention attendance was about to come full circle, back to Nashville. A compilation recording of Nashville organs came to mind and kept coming to mind. Music City Mixture is the result.

This narrative involves the rapid tossing about of numerous names, venues, and organ builders. A dramatis personae is offered here:

 

Rich Mays, Sonare Recordings, project engineer and producer, Savannah

Jennie Lou Smith and James Gooch, housing hosts for Rich and me, Nashville

Susan Murphey, M.D., my wife and tireless cheerleader, who took many photos, designed some graphics, and suffered with me through finishing up the myriad little details that drive us both crazy

Daniel E. and Jane Gawthrop. Dan is the prolific organ and choral composer whose output includes the hugely popular Sing me to heaven, as well as the Three Floral Preludes on this recording. Jane is an undisputed expert in graphics and publicity – and organists. Without these two, my fame would have gone no further than the nearest county line.

Bradley Gawthrop, brilliant organ builder, graphics designer, and all-around thinker. He designed JobyBell.org, and his firm’s Opus 1 at First Presbyterian Church in Boone, N.C., will be a must-hear.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, home of a III/58 C. B. Fisk organ, Op. 134, 2009
- Paul Magyar, former Director of Music Ministries, now Associate Pastor for Music and Worship at Central Baptist Church, Knoxville

First Presbyterian Church, home of a III/49 Beckerath organ, 1974
Rhonda Swanson, Assistant Organist

Second Presbyterian Church, home of a II/21 Juget-Sinclair organ, Op. 26, 2007
- David Bridges, Director of Music
- Sarah White, Church Administrator

First Lutheran Church chapel, home of a II/10 Wolff et Associés organ, Op. 42, 1998
- Mark Beall, Director of Music

St. Andrew’s Anglican Parish, home of a II/13 Visser-Rowland (Visser & Associates) organ, Op. 102, 1993
- Carl Smith, Organist and Choirmaster

Wightman Chapel, Scarritt-Bennett Center, home of a II/37 Casavant-Frères organ, 1970
- Jennie Lou Smith, Organist

 The following two websites are rich sources for information and photos of many Nashville organs. Visit often, and feast your eyes:

Photography by Stein

Nashville AGO (click “Area Organs” in the left sidebar.)

Up next in Part 2: Planning