Upcoming Performances

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

June 10
Guest recitalist, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rochester, Minn.

September 23, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, Schantz organ 40th anniversary, Culpeper Baptist Church, Culpeper, Va.


Now it's just a blur

I deserve a way to publicize my activities yesterday, December 9, 2012, because I am QUITE sure that NONE of my colleagues ANYWHERE has EVER done in one day what I did yesterday: Conduct RENT at 2:00, play solo organ for the Messiah Singalong at 6:00, conduct RENT at 8:00. All in the same day. All in the same room.

I know that must demonstrate a certain level of versatility as a musician, but why should that be an exception, an anomaly? Why can't a musician do music of more than one kind in one day? I find it invigorating. And I had a chance to work with lots of students, all of whom volunteered to participate in RENT or Messiah. I also had a chance to work with some band personnel who were "all over it." And all day, I was looking forward to the big meal/drink I was going to have at the end, which I did. (I recommend the new shrimp parmesan steak at Applebee's.) And then I couldn't sleep. So today, as I return borrowed Messiah scores and rental RENT scores, I'm wondering, "Whatever will I do with my time now?" Oh yeah: exams, juries, cook for the studio, PRACTICE, post grades, meet with the financial guru, plan Christmas travel, shop for Christmas. And all that good stuff.


Halloween 2012

It was a dark and stormy night. I was stealing ideas from others...

The Houston chapter of the American Guild of Organists used to present a Halloween Monster Concert. The audience would scream and howl with cue cards during the Toccata & Fugue in d, sing Pumpkin Carols, and see smoke rising during the Boëllmann Toccata. Fast-forward to a patriotic name-that-tune quiz I once heard in the National Cathedral, which I converted to a name-that-SCARY-tune quiz for Halloween. Now fast even more forward to my own ideas of holding brief costume contests decided by applause meter, plus presenting a silent scary movie on top of all the above, and you now have the Appalachian State University organ studio's annual Halloween Monster Concert.

We just presented the sixth annual concert last week. It's always on Halloween proper, which this year was a Wednesday. That didn't seem to deter the church choirs or their directors/organists from attending! Go to our Facebook page and YouTube channel to see photos and videos (soon).


21st century

At long last, my studio has a presence on YouTube and Facebook. Check us out on YouTube at AppstateOrganStudio (maybe later) and on Facebook at Appalachian State University Organ Studio. Thank you, Johnson Ramsaur, for setting all that up.

As for myself, I'm about to add Facebook and Twitter links to my website, if I can figure out how. I'll also be adding a fan page on Facebook to steer more audience to my recordings.

Blogs are beginning to look so last month. But mine is still healthy and is being read by many each week. I'll keep it going as long as I can.

My studio is Texas-bound! East Texas Pipe Organ Festival in Kilgore. It's going to be stunning, I'm sure. We can't wait!




Boone is 1 hour from anything. When I take students down the mountain to attend something, it had better be good. Last Saturday was. Nine of us traveled to Burlington, NC, where we enjoyed an organ crawl and reveled in the sights and sounds of organs by Harrison & Harrison (Front Street Methodist), Andover (1st Presbyterian), Schantz (1st Presbyterian), and Dobson (Holy Comforter). We also enjoyed hotdog after hotdog at Zack's in downtown.

And that was just the appetizer. In November, ten of us will be traveling to Kilgore, Tex., where we will participate in the second East Texas Pipe Organ Festival. We will learn much about the zenith of American organ building and its various characters. I can smell an Aeolian-Skinner from a mile away, and I have been hooked for years. Now I have done all I can to get my point across to my students: "Go to this." And they're going! And they're looking forward to it, as am I.

Recitals continue unabated. School continues unabated. And Music City Mixture just got its first real publicity push, the one that it didn't get at the convention. Here's hoping...


As school starts once again...

I have to be honest. I don't always look forward to the beginning of a new semester. I am rarely prepared in time. I need a few more days to finish building online course materials. I always seem to need a few more weeks to practice before school begins taking up time. I hate seeing all the traffic return to town. The first few weeks of a semester are particularly crowded -- upperclassmen moving back to town, freshmen moving into town, everyone getting used to schedules and parking woes, and the summer residents who are still here. The streets are overcrowded, mostly with people who don't know how or don't care how they drive. But Boone is a bustling place, full of life and cooling weather. And I love my students, and I enjoy visiting with them again as they hang out in the hallway outside my office and begin sharing ideas with each other once again.

This time around, I need school in my life, and I'm looking forward to trying some new things as a teacher and performer. The start of this new semester is about to give me a solidity I have been lacking since this past spring. It has been a year of loss. In four months, I experienced the loss of my mother Judi Bell, my classmate and friend David S. Kirby, my undergraduate organ professor H. Max Smith, and a catastrophic publicity failure for my new recording Music City Mixture (to be narrated in a forthcoming blog post, not yet written). But this year I also gained some things: tenure, a summer full of rich travel experiences, some extra time with my sister Talana, and my father Donald's handsome chocolate brown 1970 Lincoln Mark III. As long as I live, his spirit will live in that car. And I am energized by all that.

So bring on the last-minute lecture planning, the recitals on the road, the lunches with students, the dealing with people who haven't done their homework, and the scheduling snafus in the concert hall. It's a new day, and my new buzzphrase will be, "Be the master of your own mess."