Yesterday when I opened the Star Advertiser newspaper, I cannot tell you thrilled I was to see Rodney Gehrke‘s picture prominently displayed in the entertainment section. Rodney arrived yesterday from San Francisco and will be playing a recital on the mighty Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Sunday, January 15th at 4 pm. It is the 2nd concert of our Abendmusiken Series.
In this month’s issue of The American Organist, there was a very interesting commentary by Haig Mardirosian in which he talked about the culture of organ recitals. He says, “if orchestras and opera companies are dying, or at least struggling against serious, even terminal disease, then the organ recital world has long been in the lock of rigor mortis.”He asked the question, “What’s the smallest audience for whom you’ve ever played? Fifty? Twenty-five? Fourteen? Five?” Apparently poor organ recital attendance is the norm, not the exception.
Our retired colleague from St. Andrew’s Cathedral, John McCreary, used to say, “where two or three are gathered together, we’ll have an organ recital” (or something like that!)
As it turns out, there are TWO organ recitals happening in Honolulu this week, and when the norm is one or two per year, this is an embarrassment of riches. The other recitalist is Ken Cowan, from Westminster Choir College (my alma mater) and he will be playing at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday, January 22nd at 5:30pm, one week later. What is really freaky is that Rodney Gehrke played an organ recital in Korea in June–and Ken Cowan played a concert in Korea — the same week! Although the concerts were not on the same organ —Ken played the Fisk in Inchon and Rodney played the Rieger at the Seoul Theological University — they were in close proximity. How is it that these two gentlemen would play organ recitals in the same week and in the same towns so far from home—first in Seoul, Korea, then in Honolulu, Hawaii? All within six months? And apparently, they’ve never met one another.
It’s too weird to explain!
By the way, Rod’s father, Hugo Gehrke, was our St. Andrew’s colleague, John Renke‘s organ teacher from the 9th grade! John says he has known “Roddy since he was a child.”