Today at the Boston Early Music Festival I signed up to go to an organ mini-festival at Wellesley College. We have not gotten back to Newton Centre until after 11 pm for three nights in a row now so getting up at 6 am was a little like death warmed over.
The bus left from the Radisson Hotel at 8:30 am and it took nearly an hour to get to Wellesley because of heavy traffic — imagine! We arrived at Houghton Chapel and I was immediately drawn to the Fisk tracker organ in the back. Now 30 years old, the organ was the first major instrument in North America to be in mean-tone tuning. That means that the thirds are perfectly in tune for certain keys. The minute you play a chromatic scale, though, you get some interesting sounds. The first recital was elegantly played by James David Christie, called “Sweelinck and his students” and featured many colorful registrations. The second recital was played by Luca Guglielmi and included works by Sweelinck and his pupils. Luckily I was able to take pictures of the split key keyboard before the battery on my camera died.
We went by bus back into downtown Boston and heard two more organ recitals — the complete so-called Bach Leipzig Chorales (even though most of them were written in Weimar), and also known as the Great Eighteen, although there are only 17! Both of these recitals were well-played by William Porter.
In the audience I was very happy to see my former teacher from Westminster Choir College days, Joan Hult Lippincott! It has been 38 years since I have seen her and long overdue for me to say “thank you” for playing such a profound influence on me, especially on my teaching. I think that her style of teaching has become “my own,” and I frequently find myself quoting Lippincott to my students.
The afternoon concert was a fantastic program by gambist Jordi Savall. Spectacular, stunning, world-class, virtuosic — words are inadequate to describe how truly great this concert and his playing was.
We ate a quick dinner with Ian Capps and Jeannette Johnson, then went back to Jordan Hall for a concert by the BEMF Festival Orchestra, with Kristian Bezuidenhout as the featured harpsichordist. We heard him play last summer in Saintes, France, and this was another great program.