Lately Facebook has offered a feature where you can re-share a post you did two, three, or five years ago, and the above picture from December 10, 2013 popped up. It was a picture of Carl Crosier stepping in to conduct the St. Andrew’s Priory Select Choir for Naomi Castro, who was sick at the Home for the Holidays fundraiser. Carl had retired as Cantor from the Lutheran Church of Honolulu two years earlier, in August 2011, but apparently he didn’t forget how to conduct a choir to bring out their best.
Oh, these memories are so bittersweet — I can’t believe that it was only two years ago that Carl was still involved in music. So the last few days I’ve been practicing the three settings of Bach’s Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659-661, in preparation for tomorrow’s two morning services at St. Andrew’s Cathedral where I’ll be playing the organ for John Renke, who will be running in the Honolulu Marathon.
Although I’ve played these settings since then, practicing these beloved Advent chorales bring back memories of my Great Eighteen Chorales concerts three years ago, August 18 and 25, 2012. For the first time since then, I’ve summoned up enough courage to listen to my performance of BWV 659, in which Bach highly ornaments the chorale melody. You see, after playing a concert, I just can’t bear to listen to any recordings of myself — all I would hear would be the flaws! I’ll let you hear it for yourself.
Of course, tomorrow’s performance will be entirely different, since I’ll be playing the pieces on the Æolian-Skinner organ at the Cathedral, a far different animal from the Beckerath at LCH.
From my last post (A pipe organ in peril), you know that I’ll have my fingers crossed and hope that the stops I chose don’t develop any new dead notes! By the way, just yesterday I got the exciting news from the Organ Historical Society that the article I wrote about the Æolian-Skinner organ will be published in the April 2016 edition of The Tracker, the OHS’ quarterly publication! Woo-Hoo!
In addition to playing the Bach pieces, I’ll also accompany the 10:30 a.m. choir in Henry Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Alway. When I pulled out my copy to practice it this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see the name of Maureen Foster on the music (look at the very top of the picture, left). She was the choir director of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Burbank, CA — my very first church job which I got when I was 15 years old.
Although I can’t remember what Maureen looked like since that was a half-century ago, I do remember that she was extremely musical and didn’t just beat time. She had the choir bring out the accents of the words, and not sing everything at the same dynamic or stress.
That’s something I also try to do with my organ playing, in spite of the fact that no matter how hard you hit the key, the note will sound at the same dynamic or loudness. So the organist has to use other means to bring out the highpoints of the phrase.
As I said earlier, though, playing Nun komm der Heiden Heiland tomorrow will be vastly different on a Romantic-type instrument like the Æolian-Skinner unlike the Baroque instrument that I’m used to at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Hope I can keep it together!