Today is the first of March, and as I look over just my Sunday schedule of organ gigs, it’s going to be madness! In several instances I’m going to have to draw upon some long dormant memories and experiences to get through all this.
Today, for example, I’ll be playing a Japanese wedding at historic Kawaiaha’o Church, also called the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific,” with its many portraits of Hawaiian kings and queens on the wall. When organist Buddy Nalua’i contracted me to play this afternoon, I had to protest, “But I haven’t played a Japanese wedding in over ten years!”
What makes a “Japanese wedding” different from a “local wedding,” you might ask? It’s basically a formula — beginning with a soloist singing “The Hawaiian Wedding Song,” followed immediately by the processional of the bride and groom who walk down the aisle together. Following this are the usual rites for marriage with the big exception that the organist plays soft background music continuously until after the ring exchange. (Once a wedding coordinator told me it’s called BGM — background music!”) At this point the singer performs one song — today it will be “The Queen’s Prayer.” A few short minutes of more background music, and then it ends with a recessional. Aside from the two songs with the singer, all of the other music will be my own selections — and the ceremony lasts approximately 15 minutes from start to finish. There is little to no interaction with the bride and groom — some people might call that a blessing!
Next Sunday, I’ll be back at the Walker organ at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, where I played last Sunday, February 22. You remember, that’s the one that is strictly mechanical key AND stop action, which means I can’t push any buttons and I get my workout just changing stops! Before last Sunday, the last time I played at St. Christopher’s was in April 2014 so it’s been awhile.
The next two Sundays I will be at Kilohana United Methodist Church and you know what, the last time I played in a Methodist church was when I was a sophomore in college. (That was eons ago!) When I tried to locate the First United Methodist Church of Van Nuys, CA where I played in college, I discovered that the church doesn’t exist anymore — the building is now being used by a Korean congregation!
I guess I was under the mistaken notion that organists in non-liturgical churches don’t have as much to play. Wrong! In addition to the usual prelude, offertory, postlude and hymns, I will be playing an introit, responses, the doxology, and “background music to silent prayer” (that’s an oxymoron if there ever was!) And they requested a “lively” postlude to boot, in spite of this being the season of Lent. Hmmm… I’ll have to think about that one!
Lastly, on March 29th, Palm Sunday, I’ll be playing at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church! Yep, that’s the place where I am Monday through Friday as the parish administrator, chief cook and bottlewasher! My only reservation is that when people see me, they will say: “Oh, while you’re here, can you make me ten copies of this?” or “Can I have the application form for this?” or “Is it too late to order Easter lilies?” or worse yet, “We’re out of toilet paper in the women’s bathroom!”
It’s difficult to separate their seeing me as only the substitute organist that day instead of the Girl Friday!