When I described last weekend’s organ gigs, my sister said, “They should start calling you a Minuteman!” because I had so little notice before having to jump on the organ bench. I had forgotten what a Minuteman was, so here’s what I found: Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. [Well, that’s not me!] (USHistory.org) In other words, Minutemen were ready “in a minute!”
Last week Tuesday when I saw John Renke, St. Andrew’s Cathedral musician, for an AGO meeting, he was feeling poorly. As the week progressed, he asked me what my availability was and in the case of the Sacred Tea Ceremony last Friday (“SOS Organist Needed”), I had about an hour to choose the music and then I had to push a piston and hope to God there weren’t any dead notes, always a risk at the Cathedral. I never got to try out the music first because the building was already full of people when I got there.
Then it was mid-Saturday afternoon when John alerted me that he needed me to play the next day’s two Sunday morning services, 8:00 and 10:30. I did have a couple of hours to go over to the Cathedral to try out the 8:00 am choir’s anthem and my organ voluntaries to see what stops I could get away with without coming upon dead notes — always a concern when playing the Aeolian-Skinner organ. (See my post, “A friend in need“). I’m happy to report things went just fine, and I thought surely John would be back this week.
Unfortunately, Monday afternoon I got a text:
I hope everything went well yesterday. I just came from my doctor, and have two more requests: 1. Can you take school chapel tomorrow at 9:15 am! 2. Can you play for Evensong on Wednesday?
I did indeed play for the Priory’s chapel service yesterday and tonight I’m playing Evensong after teaching seven organ lessons today. I didn’t get the hymns until 5 minutes before the Priory chapel service, and Pastor Diane Martinson, my former colleague from Iolani School who led the service, marveled at my sightreading ability. (Yes, but Diane, I’ve been sightreading my ENTIRE life!)
But my week isn’t over yet — yesterday I found out that I’m playing for the Chrism Mass this Friday morning and Morning Prayer on Saturday morning for the Episcopal Diocese’s “Day of Discernment.” Luckily I have a lot of music (read “Bach”) in my fingers, and in all these services I have consciously made an attempt to not repeat any of the organ music throughout the week! (Just in case some of the same people come to all these services!) In the worst case scenario, I may have to play two or three services next Sunday as well.
Just call me “Minute-Lady” Organist!
P.S. Get well, John!