You may recall that when I was in Bakersfield, I heard an excellent presentation on introducing the organ to children by Robert Ampt and his wife, Amy Johansen, who live in Australia. They also gave an organ duet recital including Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel), Sonata in D minor (Gustav Merkel), Variations on an original theme (Barrie Cabena), Waltzing Matilda (Ampt), and Organ Symphonie (Camille Saint-Saens). You can’t imagine how hard it is to play an organ duet with someone when you are used to sitting in the middle of the bench, and having the bench to yourself. All of a sudden now you’re either on the right or the left side of the console, and the pedal notes are in a completely different position!
I also found out they were going to vacation in Hawaii with their daughter for a week before heading home. Apparently Rob had ordered some new organ shoes and needed to send them to a U.S. address, so when we came home last week, the shoes had arrived with our mail.
I first met this “Dynamic Duo” in 1997 when Rob gave a presentation at the Region IX American Guild of Organists (AGO) convention right here in Honolulu. He gave a slideshow on “The Organs of Sydney,” but I unfortunately had to miss it because I was running around like the proverbial “chicken with its head cut off” during the convention. That was also the time that Carl Crosier went to Russia and Scandinavia with the Compline Choir of Seattle, so he wasn’t around for the Hawaii AGO convention.
Anyway, I was eager to have Carl meet “The Australians,” so we invited them to dinner a couple of nights ago. Robert is the Sydney City Organist and the Organist/Choirmaster of the German Lutheran Church where they still have services only in German! In fact, Rob gave the table grace in German at our dinner and it was just lovely! There was a nice article about him giving a concert to a capacity crowd in Wollongon Town Hall which you can read about by clicking here.
Amy Johansen, as I wrote earlier, is the younger sister of Jane Johansen, who briefly was the organist of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu prior to my tenure. Amy said that Jane was in fact her first teacher! Amy has been the Sydney University Organist since 1998, and her duties include performing at over 60 graduations and ceremonies annually, as well as overseeing the organ recital series. Amy was anxious to play the Beckerath organ at LCH since she plays a large Beckerath at Sydney University (1972) and considers the LCH organ a “sister” instrument. As you may remember, in 1972, Herr von Beckerath came to Hawaii to install the positiv organ which served as the interim LCH instrument while the larger one was being built (that organ now resides in Lahaina, Maui) — and afterwards he went on to Australia to install the Sydney University instrument, which is about twice the size of LCH’s organ.