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.

« Summer 2015: Record highs | Main | Buried treasure in Valdosta »

Fall Break adventures in the Heartland

I'm just wrapping up a trip to the Kansas City area, where I have enjoyed engaging in some of my most treasured activities: visiting with friends old and new, visiting a new area of the country, driving hundreds of miles, and playing for an appreciative audience and collaborators.

Last Wednesday, I arrived in Kansas City. I met up with an old friend Scott Foppiano, now director of music at the church of St. Vincent de Paul, one of those rare churches that celebrates Mass in pre-Vatican II style, in LATIN. Scott and I enjoyed dinner, and then he took me to the church, where I took in the architecture and the new Johannus organ that Scott designed. It's quite a space, and Scott presides from that rear gallery with great pride and conscientiousness. Scott and I spent much of the evening catching up on old friends and on our old teachers John and Margaret Mueller. Rosie the cockapoo also spent a lot of time grooming me.

Thursday, after a delicious breakfast, Scott and I journeyed five miles to visit the organs at the Community of Christ headquarters, where the 1959 Aeolian-Skinner and the 1993 Casavant organs preside over the Auditorium and the Temple, respectively. Alas, we didn't get to play, but I took in the architecture and bought a book. From there, we went to President Truman's library and to First Presbyterian, Independence. Organ crawl days are the ultimate nerd's nectar.

We skipped lunch, because dinner was at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. Mercy, what a delicious meal. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should.

Friday morning, I made my way to St. Joseph, Missouri, to start making friends with the rather stunning Hook & Hastings [et al] at Francis Street First United Methodist. After four hours' practice followed by a delicious Cajun lunch with gracious host David Lewis, followed by five more hours of practice, I was ready for dress rehearsal that evening with the St. Joseph Community Chorus for a hymn festival on Sunday. The Chorus and their conductors Frank Thomas and Jennifer Stammers were gracious collaborators, and a few of them were gracious beer drinkers afterwards. More nectar.

Saturday, I had the day off. But wheels had been turning in my head for weeks. I knew that I was going to be only a three-hour drive from Aeolian-Skinner Op. 1457-A, the identical twin sister to my own practice organ at home. And so I set out that morning. Along the way, I stopped in Corning, MO, to visit what looked like a stunning church out in the distance, St. John's Lutheran, Corning. It is on the Historic Register, but the poor building is currently boarded up after some recent, devastating flooding. I also took the business routes through all the towns, enjoying my very first visit to Nebraska and my first time operating a motor vehicle in Iowa. Nerd.

And so I completed my stalking of Op. 1457-A by finding the campus where she lives and by finding my way into the music building. Upon entry, I immediately heard organ music and followed my ears to the sound. There was one lone student practicing the Franck Pastorale on Op. 1457-A. Recognizing that I was an unannounced visitor in an otherwise empty building, I decided not to disturb the student and be taken for a stalker. But to the fellow who was practicing: you get extra credit for practicing on a Saturday game day on your campus. Anyway, I got to see the organ from a short distance. That was enough for now; I can always go back. Meanwhile, I took photos of ELEVEN practice pipe organs in that building, and I'm told they all get used. I drove back to St. Joseph and finished the evening with a bit of practicing and then some reading in a wonderful book on the worship spaces of St. Joseph, courtesy my gracious host David Lewis.

Sunday, I enjoyed a morning off before heading back to the church for the hymn festival. Full house of singing people, and a chorus full of enthusiastic collaborators. This one was a hit, and I am so glad to have been a part of it. Dinner was delicious and courtesy new friends Bill and Judy McMurray.

Sunday evening had a bonus in store. I was invited to visit the Visser-Rowland at First Presbyterian, courtesy Donovan Jones, Michael Shaw and benefactors Jim and Judy Trout. This was a superb way to wrap things up!