Guessing . . . and groping

St. Andrew's Cathedral is only two blocks away.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is only two blocks away.

It was just about ten days ago that I found out that I was one of four organists who were asked to play the prelude for John McCreary’s funeral service. To say that I was flattered and honored is an understatement! John Renke, the Cathedral organist, asked what each of us wanted to play, and I chose Max Reger’s Benedictus and J. S. Bach’s Vor deinem Thron. I selected the Reger because I thought it would sound well on the Cathedral’s Aeolian-Skinner organ and the Bach — well, I’ve played this piece countless times for funerals, it being the last piece Bach wrote. Legend has it that Bach dictated it to his son-in-law on his deathbed. I even recall a time when I heard John McCreary himself play it on the Cathedral organ.

John Renke, gave out a list of possible practice times, and I took the opportunity to go today. Since St. Andrew’s Cathedral is only two blocks away from our condo, I decided to travel light and only take my music, shoes, and of course, my keys. Alas, I had forgotten both the case for my contact lenses, as well as my reading glasses so when I got to the Cathedral, I discovered I could see the music, but not the names of the stop knobs! So when I was in the stage of picking what stops to use, I had to rely upon my ears and not my eyes to choose what stops to use! That’s why I called this post “Guessing . . . and groping!”

Organists know, though, that on large organ consoles, the stop knobs are arranged in a certain order, with the lower-pitched stops on the bottom of the columns, graduating to higher-pitched stops and mixtures; the reed stops are located on the top. Although it was a little of a guessing game, I was confident that my registrations will be OK. Still, I’d like to return before next Saturday’s service to double-check my selections which I saved on memory level 33, as I was assigned.

I suppose that I could have saved myself a lot of grief by just going back to retrieve my reading glasses! Turning on the lights in the chancel could have also helped!

The organ console at St. Andrew's Cathedral.

The organ console at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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