It’s less than 40 days away to my Bach Great Eighteen concerts on August 18 and 25. I am in “full court press” mode, a term I know from basketball but also an expression meaning “an all-out effort or offensive.”
Since returning home from “vacation” I have had three practice sessions, and since I am on a summer schedule (meaning no morning Iolani chapel), my target is to be sitting at the organ by 6:30 am. This gives me about two hours of practice before going to work at my day job. When I get home from work and teaching organ lessons, then I work on the musical editions for the choir. I’m only about halfway done with that project, then I’ve got to get cracking on writing the program notes. This weekend I must also distribute my news releases to the media.
I have struggled with the order of the program, because long ago I decided that I did NOT want to play the pieces in the order in which they are published in the book. When you plan a concert, you want to add as much variety as possible, and so consideration has been given to mixing tempos, registrations, and keys — you don’t know how much I’ve been challenged with the fact that nine of the eighteen pieces are either in G major or G minor!
But, just as Bach chose “Komm, heiliger Geist” (Come, Holy Ghost) as the opening piece of the collection, I will open the concert with this chorale setting. The translation of this Pentecost hymn was by Martin Luther, after the Latin antiphon Veni Sancte Spiritus. Bach put the initials “J. J.” (for “Jesu, Juva” = Jesus, help) on the top of the first page, as he did with many cantata scores. Bach also specified “Organo pleno” meaning full organ.
It was an abbreviated version of this piece that I used to play at the Easter Proclamation in the Easter Vigil service for nearly 35 years, so LCH parishioners who attended that service will recognize the brilliance and exuberance of this work. It makes a great concert opener!
Here’s my assessment of how my practicing is going so far:
Day 1 • July 8. Oh dear! These fingers have a mind of their own!
Day 2 • July 9. Boy, do I have a lot of work ahead of me yet.
Day 3 • July 10. Hey, maybe this isn’t going to be so bad after all.
I guess there’s hope for me yet.