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.


Summer break? Don't make me laugh.

Everything has come due at the same time. After a semester where I missed more than a month at school for recitals and Mother's death, school is now over, and summer break has begun.

Yeah, right.

Commencement was yesterday. Europe starts in two days, which will include touring around Germany and the south of France, culminating in a recital at Sherborne Abbey, England. One day after returning from Europe, I'm off to Charleston, SC, to teach, lecture, and perform for a Pipe Organ Encounter. Then I'm home for a week, then I have service organist and recital duties at Lake Junaluska, then the AGO convention in Nashville, at which I'll release "Music City Mixture," my new recording on mechanical action organs of Nashville. Someday I'll compile a diary of how to promote a new recording. That will be extensive, and it will not include advice to try this at home.

See you on the other side.


One down, many to go 

Four recitals in three weeks:

It was a terrific week in Tuscaloosa. Faythe Freese organized another wonderful Sacred Music Conference, during which I heard great masterclass playing and visited with friends old and new. I made fast friends with the Holtkamp at the University of Alabama; it plays well with others. My gracious hosts and friends John & Liz McGuire (plus son Ian and dachshunds Felix and Oscar) were great company. My sister and I enjoyed a long walking tour of the campus. And Faythe’s husband Jerry cooked Texas brisket and BBQ chicken for dinner, over which about 10 guests made fast friends and reveled into the night.

Now for a quick visit to my sister in Dothan, AL, and then it’s off to play the Letourneau at Sarah Hawbecker’s church in Atlanta, Redeemer Lutheran. Then straight off to Greensboro to play the Andover at UNCG. Home for three days, then off to St. Paul’s, Augusta, GA. Then I’ll be home for about a month, during which time I will be losing my mind making up lessons and classes.

Generally, I don’t like playing the same program over and over. But all these and more are at such a rapid-fire sequence this semester that I would have some trouble breaking out of that revolving door. Fortunately, no two recitals are less than 3 hours away from each other, so no concert goers will have to hear the same thing twice (unless they just want to).

And just to remind you: I love doing this! Wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’m grateful for a day job that supports my going out so often.


Christmas 2011

Four choral concerts, one recital, a Messiah Singalong, and one partridge in a pear tree later, my Christmas is ready. I'm now ready to hear some juries, post some grades, visit the family, play at the ol' stompin' grounds in Houston, attend some parties, and put 2800 more miles on my car. And practice like mad.

Advent/Christmas arguments aside, I recommend Sirius/XM channel 75 for nonstop Christmas music. Driving around in the mountains where I live, enjoying people's Christmas lights and decorations, and listening to professional (not pop) Christmas recordings on satellite radio -- it all puts me in the spirit. I'm ready to go shopping and keep Scrooge at bay for another year.

I wish you, dear Reader, a magnificent Christmas and a Happy New Year.


It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween

Tonight is the annual Halloween Monster Concert at Appalachian State University, a tradition I started in 2006. That's all the credit I can take, because the rest of it was inspired by the same annual tradition in Houston, started many years earlier by others.

Anyway, tonight at 8:00 Eastern, we will hear the Bach d minor, along with "accompaniment" by the audience reading cue cards with such commands as "scream," "applaud," "ooh, aah,""uh oh," "snort," and the like.

We will sing Pumpkin Carols such as "Deck the patch with poison ivy / Fa la la..." and "We three ghosts of Halloween are / scaring kids who wander too far." Classics, I know.

We will administer a Name-That-(scary)-Tune quiz, where the piano and organ will play tunes from horror movies and monster-themed TV shows. Also included in the "scary" category would be tunes that we hear far too often, such as Chopsticks, those *%&# Phantom chords, and You Light Up My Life.

We will hear the Boëllmann Toccata.

We will have various costume contests: scariest, funniest, cheesiest, best couple, and most original. Applause will be the judge.

This year, we are adding a silent movie, Thomas Edison's Frankensten, 1910.

And candy will be available at the end, as will open console.

If you're in the area, you ought to come up. Those of you outside the area ought to attend a similar event or just pine for this one. It really is a hoot, pun intended.


Come, labor on

What a Labor Day weekend it has been. One wedding rehearsal, two weddings and Tropical Storm Lee. Those two weddings are probably the last I shall ever play (reasons forthcoming later). Honestly, weddings are fun, but I have developed quite a hate/hate relationship with wedding rehearsals, which I will explain fully in a forthcoming blog post.

The weekend was lovely. The first wedding was for the very low-maintenance daughter of a tenor in the choir I most recently served in Lenoir, NC. (By the way, while that city’s name looks like it would be pronounced as French “luh-NWAR,” it is pronounced “luh-NOR.” Sorry.) Anyway, her music was nice, and she let me choose it pretty much myself. And it was a great reunion for me with that congregation.

The second wedding was for that same church’s choir director’s son. He and his new wife are both band directors in Asheville, and their music was wonderfully laden with brass choir and organ. And as it turns out, many of his brass players were VERY old college classmates of mine, and they were joined by some talented students of his. Old and young making wonderful music together. It was a thrilling hour of music for a lovely couple. I made the acquaintance of one of the groom’s horn students; she is thinking about involving the Horn in her career. You go, girl. And thank you, Corey Powell, Music Associate and Organist for the Central United Methodist Church, Asheville, for your hospitality in allowing this guest organist to play for that wedding.

Couple all this with a delicious buffet dinner after the wedding, plus brunch the next morning with old and new friends, and it was a great time. By then, Tropical Storm Lee was doing his thing in that area, so the drive home was wet but fortunately not heavily populated by bad drivers.

While I was away, three major deadlines presented themselves as looming and/or late. As of this post, I am now caught up on all that and am about to go stand in front of my sacred music class. We’re discussing, of all things, WEDDINGS this week. Perfect timing.

Then I have a cameo performance of the Gigue Fugue at ASU on September 13.

Then that progressive dinner/recital performance in Charlotte on September 16.

Then those full recitals on September 20 and 25.

Then those recording sessions in Nashville next month.

Meanwhile, disappointments abound, of the professional and personal varieties. The first variety shall pass, and the second shall be overcome. I am swamped in work and deadlines, but they are all of the musical variety, and I really cannot nor shall not complain. Everyone should be this lucky to do what he loves and is good at. Happy Fall to all, and to all a good night –er – semester.