As some of you know, I will be one of the workshop presenters at the Region IX Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Bakersfield, CA, June 24-26, 2013. My topic will be “Teaching Little Fingers to Play the Organ,” and will address the special challenges of teaching children with no prior keyboard experience.
On the opposite side of the spectrum will be a workshop presented by Dorothy Young Riess, called “Performing in the Golden Years — Just Survive or Really Thrive?” She says that the Golden Years (over age 65) place special demands on organists and she’ll address the physiology of aging, and discuss better ways to work with what you’ve got. She has some great qualifications — not only is she a fine concert organist, but she also spent 30 years practicing internal medicine — and is now 82 years old and has returned to playing the organ. She once lived in Honolulu and was the organist at the First United Methodist Church on Beretania Street. She visited Hawaii a few years ago and called me up to see the Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.
So, I was thinking of Dorothy’s workshop when I got an email yesterday from my student on Maui, Clayton Logue, organist at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Lahaina, Maui. Clay wrote: “This morning, I played Wilbur Held’s arrangement of O Filii et Filiae for the prelude, from the Easter Augsburg Organ Library collection. Of course, we always have prelude and postlude titles printed in the bulletin, with composer names. Immediately following the service, a visiting Episcopal priest from San Bernandino approached me and told me that Wilbur Held is his supply organist, and often plays for his parish. He lives in a nearby assisted-living facility. The priest was very surprised that I played his arrangements, and said Mr. Held would be thrilled to hear that his music was being played in Maui! He was taking Mr. Held a bulletin to show……Made my day……….”
When I read this, I was most happy to learn that Wilbur Held (b. 1914) is alive, well and still playing the organ! He visited Hawaii quite a few years ago and in fact signed my guest book. I have often assigned pieces by Wilbur Held for my students because they are very accessible and relatively easy.
I’m not so sure that I’ll still be playing the organ if I make it to age 99!