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.


When the party's over

Road Trip 2011 is over. Four thousand miles in two weeks, lots of organs to see, friends to visit, sister to play Scrabble with, and chocolate cake to eat. Now school planning begs for my attention, and it gets it. Practicing is still on schedule, barely, and the weather in Boone has cooled off after the heat wave. Life is quite good.

My childhood church, where I was bitten by the wanna-play-the-organ bug, is about to celebrate its 100th birthday. Those childhood places never grow old, and I am delighted to have been asked to play for the centenary celebration. That will be the last hurrah, and then school starts.

Well, that was short. If you need anything, I'll be practicing.


Road trip 2011

It's time for my annual pilgrimage to Houston to visit friends and family, eat authentic Mexican, play at the ol' stompin' grounds, roast alive in 95 degrees with 95% humidity, etc. Due to the amount of stuff I usually have to carry, plus the fact that one needs one's car in Houston, I drive to Houston more often than I fly there. Each year, I make several stops along the way to check out an instrument or visit a friend or visit my sister. This year may be the most schizophrenic yet:

It all starts with a short conference at Campbell University, which is in Eastern North Carolina (which is the opposite direction from Houston. I told you this was schizophrenic). From there to Macon, Ga., to make friends with an instrument I'm playing next March and to visit with Harold McManus, my predecessor at First Presbyterian, Houston. Harold is a prince, and his service playing will bring tears of joy every time. From there I'll overnight at my sister's in Dothan, AL. Next morning to Tuscaloosa to make friends with the organ at the University of Alabama, where I'm playing next January. From there to Atlanta to visit the organ at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, where I'm playing next February, then on to Houston.

In Houston, I'm looking forward to interviewing my mentor and teacher, Clyde Holloway, for The American Organist magazine. I'll also serve duty at a Board meeting for the Aeolian Manor Foundation, which my dear friend Glen Douglas set up to encourage young organists. (Once his house organ is finished, we'll be hearing more about all that.) Then play for First Presbyterian in Houston, then go play slot machines with my sister in Biloxi. Then back to Houston for the annual Richard Forrest Woods choir reunion, then head back home, perhaps checking out the Aeolian-Skinners in Longview and Kilgore, Tex, along the way.

This is only a two-week trip. Perhaps I'll practice during some of that time; perhaps I'll ride my bike through the hot, moist air. In any event, my belly will be filled with wonderful cuisine, and my soul will be renewed by a great city filled with great friends. If you'd like to come along, just let me know.


Summer 2011

Spoleto was great! I ate much beef, Hoppin' John, and cheese grits. I heard fine performances, and I added what I hope was another fine performance to the festival. I dined with gracious friends and hosts, and I enjoyed a spectacular but brief tour of churches and organs, courtesy of JeeYoon Choi.

Now I'm at the Region IV convention of the American Guild of Organists. And as usual, our N.C. locals are serving up fine performers on fine instruments, plus terrific food and plenty of time for visiting with each other. I've preached this before, but the fellowship at a convention is worth the price of admission. It is so very good to visit with old friends, strengthen acquaintances, and shake new hands. I highly recommend it.

Then after two weeks of intense, panic-driven practice for upcoming events this fall, I'll head to Houston for my annual visit to play at the old stompin' grounds, visit friends and mentor, and attend the annual Richard Forrest Woods birthday party and reunion. Throw in a nice visit with my sister in Dothan, AL, and summer fun and games will be over. Then it's back to intense, panic-driven practicing.


No more teacher's dirty looks

School's out. This was one of those rare semesters when I looked forward more to the destination than the journey. But along the way, I still found myself on a few highs with a musical production, new friendships, gigs coming out my ears, my students' encounter with their first E.M. Skinner organ, and our ever-colorful Commencement ceremonies. It was all fun, but I'm glad for the break.

The Boone area has two new pipe organs. The Church of the Holy Cross in Valle Crucis installed last year a 35-year-old van Daalen, transplanted from Minnesota. John Farmer moved it and made the necessary architectural alterations to it. It looks like it should have always been there, and it sounds like it, too. My dedicatory recital on it is Sunday, May 15, at 4:00 pm.

The First Presbyterian Church of Boone is about to receive Gawthrop Organworks' Opus 1 instrument. I'm going over there today with my hard hat to inspect the space and take some measurements. Mr. Gawthrop is already making plans for a very Romantic inaugural program. Gee, I wonder whom he might find to play that sort of stuff.

It is encouraging to see congregations large and small exhibit such great enthusiasm for pipe organs. Long may they live!

This summer: Washington, Spoleto, AGO Greensboro, and Houston. I hope the air conditioners are working.


It’s a grand night for singing. And playing. And blogging.

It has been a frenetic semester: I have tackled countless projects and programs and have made many new friends on the road. I have seen a drum set in the chancel of a church where I thought a drum set would NEVER be found. I have heard hair-raising playing in the Charlotte chapter AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists. I have worked furiously to keep up. It is Spring in Boone, and I can see the end of the semester in sight. I predict that no parent or grandparent will be smiling as wide as I at Commencement.

I am getting into the mind of Dupré, and that is a fascinating place to be. “Bell and Brass” played his Poème Héroïque on March 27. Students are playing the g minor Prelude & Fugue and the Symphonie-Passion. And now I’m in the middle of the Stations of the Cross, to be played at First Christian Church, Wilson, NC, on Good Friday. The greatness of Dupré as an improviseur is one thing, but his greatness in being able to commit all that to paper after the fact is another. I have studied Dupré many times, but this time around has been particularly fruitful and poignant. I suppose one finally “gets it” after a while!

I’m about to launch several “sermon series” in the blog. Subjects such as recruiting, weddings, and console care/abuse will be picked clean in horrific detail. And of course, I still have plenty to say about the silly things that go on in church and behind the scenes at churches.

Meanwhile, Happy Spring, Happy Easter, and happy exams and summer!