Yesterday was Day Four at the Organ Historical Society and we again went to six musical events starting with an outstanding recital by Monica Czausz at the Wesley United Methodist Church. She had just won the AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists in Fort Worth, TX and gotten home at 1 am this morning. And here she played a stunning recital at 8:30 the same morning! She seemed awfully perky for getting so little sleep.
The next church we went to was the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ in Somers, CT, which was destroyed by a devastating fire on New Year’s Day, 2012, so everything in the building was as it was in the latter 19th century except it was brand new, including the Richards, Fowkes organ. We heard organist Christa Rakich play her own composition, “Hommage à Pachelbel: Eleven variations on ST. ANNE,” as we had just sung the same hymn tune. Then she played three Edward Elgar pieces with a cellist.
In the afternoon, we learned that the Organ Historical Society is the recipient of Stoneley, a spectacular mansion outside of Philadelphia, which will house the OHS archives. What an incredible and generous gift by Frederick Haas!
The annual meeting was followed by a Hymn Sing with organist Patrick Scott at St. Theresa’s R.C. Church in South Hadley, MA who had won first place at the AGO’s National Competition in Improvisation (2014) and second place in the Hymn Playing Competition. In case you don’t know, a Hymn Sing at an organists convention is a showcase of the organist’s ability to improvise within the confines of a four-part hymn without playing the notes as written! I thought Patrick’s accompaniments were excellent without showing off or “horsing around” as Carl Crosier used to call it, always a challenge. He also improvised on hymns UNION SEMINARY and DUKE STREET.
Back to Massachusetts, we visited the South Congregational Church with a recital by Christopher Marks on reputedly the oldest Casavant organ in the United States, dating from 1896, then to a Jewish synagogue whose 1898 Emmons Howard organ had not been played in thirty years! It was a thrill for some of the congregants of the temple to hear the instrument which had been long silenced.Organist Vaughn Watson did what he could with the old instrument, but there were a few mechanical issues.
In the evening we heard organist Rosalind Mohnsen play a concert at the First Church of Monson, MA and I thought she played very well. She has apparently played at 21 national conventions of the Organ Historical Society! I sat next to her at Peter Sykes’ performance of “The Planets” and thanked her for sponsoring Joey Fala’s concert (she was listed as the underwriter of his program).
I’m leaving the Organ Historical Society convention one day early because my return flight to Honolulu leaves Boston’s Logan Airport at 8:00 in the morning, so I’m checking out of the Springfield Marriott and checking in to an airport hotel.
I didn’t get back to my hotel room until 11:45 pm because I spent money at the sheet music and CD exhibits, always a great feature of organ conventions. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself because I’m like a kid in a candy store!