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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“I’m dreaming of a Franck series…”

This fall was a light one for performances. That’s good, because a quick look at my Upcoming Appearances sidebar will reveal that I really should walk away from this computer and go practice now!

It is December 20, and I am now on the other side of exams, grades, and my regular Fall appearances at home. I always play a fall recital, the Halloween Monster Concert, and the annual Messiah Singalong. Those three events complete my life every fall, and without them I would be much less fun to be around:

I love to play for the “home folks” each semester, and they don’t seem to mind being guinea pigs for pieces I have never played in public before.

The Halloween concert contains all the usual fare we have come to expect from the spooky side of the organ, and the crowd is really the best part of it. My, how this campus like to have fun!

Then there is the annual Messiah Singalong, which I started here based on a perfect template I 'stole' from First Presbyterian, Houston. It’s simple: auditioned soloists sing the solos, the audience sings the choruses from borrowed scores, I play it all, and a guest conductor keeps the choruses together. I never grow weary of Messiah, and I actually miss the days in Houston when I played it three times each year. This year we had an extra twist, that of a near-cancellation due to weather. But the show went on, and we had about 30 hardy souls who were delighted that we didn’t cancel. Next year, maybe we’ll get our sunshine back and welcome the usual 200+ who join us. The best part of Messiah is the family participation – I’ve seen very young children carrying their scores in with them and following every note, whether or not they can sing those notes. That alone is worth putting the show on in the worst of blizzards.

This fall, I delivered fun-loving lectures on two of my favorite topics of recital programming (Knoxville chapter AGO meeting) and console care (Milligan College). I heard many wonderful stories of people’s first attraction to the organ and to the caring mentors who made it possible. The future of the organ lies with young people, and granting them access to this fascinating machine and fulfilling musical instrument is the ONLY way to keep it alive. Go and do thou likewise.

New topic: audiences don’t know it, but I am in the middle of a complete Franck series. I’m not going to play it all in one sitting. Or even two. Nor three. No, I think I’m going to play it in twelve. One Franck piece per recital season until they’re all played, which is roughly two to three per year. Franck “fits” very well my sense of organ music and organ playing, and I decided to include one of his pieces on every recital for the next few years, going slowly through his works so that audiences get him in small doses, rather than in one marathon overdose. Completed so far: Final; Prelude, Fugue & Variation; Cantabile. Next up: Pièce Héroïque and Choral in E. The others remain to be placed. This poses a new twist to my usual “formula” for planning a recital. In addition to including something by The Man (Bach), I now am including something by The Other Man (Franck). The programs coming out are very interesting and only add to my joy in playing them. Verily, verily I say unto you: this business doesn’t have to hurt.

Merry Christmas to all!