I enjoyed playing at the Members’ Recital yesterday afternoon though exhausted and still feeling the effects of flu/cold/whatever-it-was. It was inspiring to me to see other local church organists playing their prepared pieces. Huh. People do give a shit about this stuff, eh? There was an eighth grader who put in a respectable performance. I had a chance to chat with her and she was enthusiastic about her connection to music. It helps an old fart to see young people like her and the musicians in the Saturday performance who seem genuinely interested in my passion (music that includes more than what is consumed by so many these days).
I was surprised to see a couple choir members from my own church in attendance. Though I made an effort to let my community know about this, emailing the organ committee and the choir, putting up posters and making an announcement at church, I didn’t expect anyone to come. I reasoned that if they basically ignore my organ playing around the service why would they drive a few miles to hear me play? You never know why people do or don’t do anything, but it sort of looks like I was correct. One woman fussed at me after church pointing out that Rhonda and I keep scheduling recitals at the same time as the popular “Three at three” recitals at one of the local Reformed churches. I told her that one can’t attend everything or even avoid over lapping with other stuff entirely.
I played okay. After church I rested for a little bit and then got up and rehearsed my Bach on the piano and drove to church and did a final rehearsal of my piece on the organ despite my Sunday afternoon fatigue. I certainly attempted to prepare this performance. I made a goofy error in the Bach Cantus Firmus in the soprano on the repeat that was pretty glaring. After it happened I thought to myself I should have not repeated the first section after all. I had briefly considering skipping this repeat because the recital was going a bit longer than I like recitals to go. Eileen said it didn’t feel long to her, but also observed that she does go to these kind of performances pretty regularly (gentle reminder there).
The high point of playing for me was leading the listeners in the hymn. They gamely followed my request to divvy up the verses with Men on Stanza 1, Women on Stanza 2 and all on three. Despite my careful prep for this hymn, I gave in to my instinct and mostly improvised my accompaniment with a couple short interludes. I did this not only to illustrate the meaning of the hymn and connect to the sung moment, but also to allow other organists a peek at how I often approach a hymn. The good acoustics of Harderwyk made the sound of the singing especially satisfying to me.
I accidentally mis-registered my own piece. I couldn’t find many sounds on this instrument that I thought were appropriate and good, so I had intended to couple the Great Flute to the pedal both at the 8 foot (written pitch) and 4 foot (an octave higher). Instead I inadvertently coupled the great to itself at the 4 foot pitch. Silly because I didn’t play on the great on this piece.
The result was the melody was too soft at first. I quickly realized what I had done. About half way through I popped on the missing coupler. Unsatisfied with the performance so far I sneakily repeated the first section so i could at least render it once correctly. I later was reminded of a colleague’s performance in which she was unhappy with the way she had played a Bach orgelbüchlein piece (these are short) and simply took a breath and played again better. I always admired that.