Carl decided to sleep in this morning so I came into Boston from Newton Centre all by myself. (You have to give me credit, as I am directionally-challenged!) One great perk of this American Guild of Organists convention is that in addition to the usual convention badge, convention book bag and convention program books (we have a separate book for each day’s events!) is that we were all given T passes for the subway to get around the city. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that this is not a dentists convention in a single venue — we travel all over Boston to visit many churches and hear many organs.
Anyway, the first event I went to was a totally fascinating panel discussion and presentation on three American organ composers: Clarence Mader, Larry King and Searle Wright. I was invited to attend this by Cherry Rhodes of the USC Organ Department when I happened to be in the exhibit area, and I’m so glad I made it. The presentation was given by Jacob Benda (who did his doctoral dissertation on Clarence Mader); Cherry Rhodes (who was a good friend of Larry King); and Andrew Kotylo (who spoke about Searle Wright). Each only spoke about 15 minutes, but it was enough to make me want to investigate more of these composers’ music. Each presenter was so passionate about his/her composer that each one got choked up talking about him.
And the best part is that I saw several friends (and organ bigwigs!) who have visited us in Hawaii, including John Walker (now national AGO president), Fred Swann (of Crystal Cathedral frame and former national AGO president), Thomas Murray from Yale University, and Ladd Thomas (from USC, my alma mater). After going to a meeting for the newly-formed West
region (which combines Region VIII and Region IX, including new members from the Hong Kong chapter), I walked to Church of the Covenant where I heard the Rising Stars regional competition winners. I must say that the future of organ playing is certainly bright if these young organists are any indication. I actually was blown away by the playing of Alcee Chriss from Region VII, and he immediately got a standing ovation for his performance of Jeanne Demessieux’s Victimae paschal laudes and Maurice Duruflé’s Suite, Op. 5, all memorized and performed brilliantly. He is one to watch for a stellar career! I was also very happy with Region IX’s performer, Chinar Merjanian, who made great leaps and bounds of progress since I judged her in last year’s competition in Bakersfield, CA. It was a long and hot walk to St. Cecilia’s, but luckily the gorgeous church was air conditioned for the absolutely heavenly performance of Blue Heron, an a cappella early music group conducted by Scott Metcalfe. They call their music “Renaissance Vocal Music for the 21st Century.” They sang music by Nicholas Ludford (c. 1490-1557), songs from the Fayrfax MS and Henry VIII’s songbook, and the Missa Spes nostra by Robert Jones (fl. 1520-1535). Much of the music was in D major and not once in the hour did they lose their pitch!
Back to Skipjack’s for a dinner with former Hawaii residents Barbara Adler and Joey Fala, then it was off to First Lutheran Church where we heard a Lutheran Vespers featuring polychoral music of Praetorius. This was very similar to the Praetorius Vespers service we heard at last year’s Boston Early Music Festival where up to four ensembles were stationed all around the church. I was particularly impressed with Balint Karosi‘s organ playing and how he really made this early organ music come alive.
And then the pièce de resistance of the evening: the brilliant and sparkly performance of three organ concertos by Handel, CPE Bach and J.S. Bach by my former teacher, Joan Lippincott. At age 78 (gasp!), her fingers really flew, and as I explained to her after the concert, I’ve played all those concertos, but not all in the same evening! You may recall that at last year’s Boston Early Music Festival was the first time I had seen her in over 40 years and she still remembered me. You can go back and read my post about JHL: (“Six concerts in one day!”) in an unexpected meeting last year at the Boston Early Music Festival.
It’s been another long day, but we’re loving every minute of it!
And guess who we saw at the concert — organist Nathan Laube, who came to Honolulu a year ago last March and gave a spectacular recital.