From time to time, people ask me about my former organ student, Joey Fala, and I’m always happy to report that he’s doing fine and still playing the organ. If you click Joey Fala on the tag cloud to the right (and the size of the type indicates about how many posts I’ve written!), you’ll see that he’s been tagged in 39 posts! This will make number 40!
Right now Joey is with the Harvard Organ Society on a two-week trip to Montreal, Paris and Amsterdam. If you’d like to find out which organs they are visiting and hear about some of their adventures, you can find Harvard Organ Society on FaceBook. They have posted lots of pictures, plus each student is charged with writing a post on their travel blog which you can find here.
While in Montreal, the group took in an inaugural concert of the Montréal Maison Symphonique’s new Casavant-Frères organ, played by Christian Lane, the tour director whom Joey studied with last summer. Joey was so impressed with the huge crowd of people lined up to hear the organ concert that he took a picture. Apparently the lines went out the door and down the street! The group also heard recitals by Hans-Ola Ericsson, Mireille Lagacé, Olivier Latry and Philippe Belanger who played accompaniment to a silent film. I especially liked his description of Belanger’s improvisation:
Belanger’s improvisation was a huge hit, stirring more audience response than any modern day movie I’ve ever seen in a theater—by the end of the film, the soaring music was literally competing with the roar of laughter. Although the most lighthearted program of the day, I found myself leaving that concert particularly moved, perhaps because it reminded me of what it means to be a musician—when it comes down to things, don’t people come to hear music because they just want to have a good time? The spirit present in the hall that evening really spoke to the success of a performer taking his audience members along on a journey to a place where their imaginations could be set free. What a privilege we have as musicians to be able to create this type of experience for people.
Wow, Joey, how profound!
The group also visited the Beckerath organ at the Oratory of St. Joseph. After listening to a concert, the students got to play the organ themselves. And this is Joey’s impression of the instrument: I began my organ studies on the II/33 Beckerath at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, so it was fascinating to hear a familiar sound in such a different acoustic and at a much larger scale—the massive instrument maintained the same complex, yet impeccably pristine sound that I was so used to from its little brother back home.
The pictures in Paris are particularly heartwarming, because I can see Joey in the same places and at the same organs where I was over forty years ago when I was a student! In the picture to the left, Joey is playing the Fugue and Variation from César Franck’s Prelude, Fugue et Variation, which is one of the pieces I studied with Marcel Dupré, the former organist of Saint-Sulpice! Oooh, it just gives me chills just writing about this “circle of life.”
Joey himself has taken up blog writing, and you’ll find his blog here.