Upcoming Performances

July 18
10:00 am Eastern

Collaborative Organist, Organ/Brass concert, William Adam International Trumpet Festival, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

August 25
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Church of the Savior, Newland, N.C.

September 17
8:00 pm Eastern

Faculty recital, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

September 22
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, N.C.

Fall 2019
Guest recitalist, Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

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

March 2, 2020
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tenn.

April 5, 2020
3:00 pm Eastern

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

April 18, 2020
7:30 pm Eastern

Concerto organist, Milligan College

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


An obscure anniversary

My mother kept everything in her calendar.

Her handwritten calendar.

Every year, she would get a new calendar and start transferring all information she wanted to preserve from the previous year into the upcoming one. This birthday, that anniversary, etc. But she would also transfer other events such as the dog's birthday, the dog's death day, the date of a major surgery, the death of a beloved cousin. The amount of information looked to us like much ado about nothing, until we discovered when going through her estate that she had SAVED all previous years' calendars. Therefore, when it was all said and done, we had a perfectly preserved record of pretty much her entire adult life and our family history.

As it turns out, I do the same thing. But my calendar is electronic, and therefore, a lot less trouble. I have created simple annual repeating events that pop up from day to day. And so I, too, am able to remember this birthday or that birthday. And I have found it satisfying nostalgic to be reminded that a particular day was the death of one of my dear classmates or family member or a major milestone in my career. And it has promoted much good will in my family for me to be able to call the grieving one year after a death and say, "Hey, I'm thinking about you today. I know what today is." Much ado about nothing? Maybe to some. To me, it's a promotion of necessary parts of human life: fellowship, support, remembering together.

All that to say that today, February 1, my iPhone has reminded me of the start date in 1997 of my seven-year tenure as the organist at First Presbyterian Church of Houston, Tex. That day, I really felt I had arrived -- in charge of beautiful instruments, working with beloved conductors, making soon-to-be beloved friends in the choir, and beginning to learn more about organ chamber air conditioner breakdowns than I ever wanted to know.

Anyway, happy anniversary to me, for an event that ended in 2004. And an early Happy Groundhog Day to you.


Losing my mind

I'm in the thick of chairing our search for a new director of orchestral activities. When you have a looming deadline and people who don't respond to emails or phone calls, you tend to lose your mind.

I'm also in the thick of finishing up memorizing the Dupré A-flat Prelude & Fugue. When you are presented with such a masterful composition with two subjects and two counter-subjects, you lose your mind. In a good way.

I'm also in the thick of saying goodbye to my cat, Sebastian, whom we adopted just last November when his mistress, my aunt, died. Sebastian now appears to have some sort of lymphoma, and it is not wasting any time.

But speaking of Sebastian, a wonderful bit of trivia came to mind a few days ago. In my last News post before this one is a vague movie reference. I was considering adopting "Bagheera," a gray tabby, to be Sebastian's brother. The real Bagheera was the black panther in The Jungle Book. But Sebastian is the black cat, and therefore the two kitties ought to exchange names if Bagheera comes into the fold! But this gets even better: the voice of Bagheera in Disney's The Jungle Book was SEBASTIAN Cabot! While part of a mind is lost, another part finds beauty and joy in some details.

Then there's Avenue Q, which I am music directing this semester.

Then there's a recording on one of my favorite Aeolian-Skinners of all time.

Then there's my continued work on my in-house organ lit textbook.

And there's good exercise shoveling snow.


Semesterly duties

Spring semester. It's that time of year again. This college town of Boone, N.C., is once again full of students and traffic. And true to form, the weather is howling outside with wind and sideways-flying snow. Spring? More like endless winter. It's a blast; trust me. An Arctic blast.

But it's an exciting new semester with lots of new things in my life: My in-house textbook on organ literature is ready for presentation, chapter-by-chapter, to my class. I am enjoying learning lots of new music, my favorite of which is the Dupré A-flat Prelude and Fugue. I have all my early-in-the-semester paperwork completed. And my adopted cousin, Sebastian, is doing well. He's a black cat, and I'm thinking about getting him a gray Tabby brother named Bagheera. If I do, then maybe I should switch their names! Think about that for a moment while you ponder one of my favorite movies of all time.

Whatever your January dealings right now, I wish you all best in them. Happy 2016.


A new welcome

It's January 1, 2016. Welcome to the ever-so-slightly revised website of Joby Bell. It has been revised in that the "home" page is no longer my blog but rather this News reporting tab (which is not new). For this new year, I have taken a new interest in reporting the news (here) rather than interpreting the news (in the blog). I suppose you could say it's an actually fair and balanced version of Fox News's slogan, "We report. You decide."

At any rate, I am pleased to report a large handful of recording projects in the works, one of which is about to come out of the oven in the editing studio. I have nearly decided on a clever title for the entire series, which I'll report later. (It hasn't been approved yet by my crackerjack producer.) But I think it will work. It's a catchall title, under which I could create volume after volume for many years. I'm proud of it.

I'm also working feverishly on an in-house textbook for my organ lit course, which will begin in about a week. For years I have wanted to produce such a tool for my students' ease of reading and my ease of imparting. I may share some clever lines from it with you soon. It reads a bit like a juicy novel at times (just like organ history has unfolded, yes?).

Wishing you all best in 2016.


Summer 2015: Record highs

Biggest summer yet!

May 9: Commencement

May 10-16: road trip to Houston with five students for a studio recital at Aeolian Manor On-The-Bayou, Houston, Tex. Also visits to many beautiful organs, plus the consumption of copious amounts of food and dessert.

May 25: recital for the l'Organo series during Piccolo Spoleto, Charleston

June 6-9: record two Widor symphonies at St. Mark's, Shreveport

June 21-July 3: Montreat! Conduct masterclasses and intro to organ classes, and play two recitals at First Presbyterian, Asheville

July 12-17: faculty, American Guild of Organists "Pipe Organ Encounter," Columbus, Ga.

July 18-22: record Jongen, Brahms, and Reubke at St. Philip Presbyterian, Houston

July 30: recital at "Cedarn Point," Mount Gretna, Penn.

August 9: mini recital, Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University

August 16: Evensong and recital, St. Mary of the Hills, Blowing Rock

August 17: collapse. No -- wait -- classes begin. Somebody get me a drink.