In a recent post, I wrote about the constant deadlines of a musician — well, this musician, anyway, where there was always a service or concert to practice for. Even when I retired from my church job and no longer had the constant obligation to play organ voluntaries, hymns and to accompany choral music every Sunday, I still took on numerous organ substitute and choral accompanying gigs, plus the Great Eighteen Chorales of Bach. I’m still in the process of learning Bach’s complete Clavierübung, Part III, a goal I set for myself at the beginning of this year. In all this, I consider playing the organ my work, a discussion I had with my dinner guests last night.
It really wasn’t until Christmas a year ago that I had fun with music — that was when I played Christmas duets with my sister on the piano. It meant that I was under no deadline to get music ready for performance, except for playing in front of my family, which is really not like a regular performance! No having to get dressed up, and being obligated to do the very best performance possible. In professional situations, after all, people are paying money to hear you play.
When I retired from my church job, and I bought the baby pipe organ, I thought I would like to play chamber music — music with a small group of friends in a small room! (Former LCH chorister David Hall called chamber music not “music for a small room” but “music for a small mind!”)
Last fall I even bought a number of chamber pieces for two violins, cello and organ — some Handel sonatas, Tomaso Albinoni, and the organ trio sonatas of Bach arranged for violin, viola, cello and organ. Since then I’ve looked for opportunities to try this music out. I thought about inviting some musician friends to dinner and then we would play music after eating.
Some time ago, I talked to Darel and Georgine Stark about coming to dinner with the thought that perhaps Darel would bring his violin and we could play chamber music, and the kids would enjoy playing the baby organ in my music room.
Since Wednesday, my houseguests have been former Honolulu Symphony players (and former LCH parishioners), Greg and Janet Dubay, who are in town to play with the Hawaii Symphony from their home in Portland, OR. When the Dubays arrived, I suddenly realized that I should invite the Stark family to dinner during their visit so that we would have a built-in trio, with Greg playing cello and Janet and Darel on the violin, in addition to myself on organ.
And that’s what we did after dinner last night!
Was it fun? Possibly — although I felt a little intimidated by professional musicians (Darel, Greg and Janet) who are at the top of their game. You see, even though I’ve been sightreading my whole life, I was feeling a little bit rusty since I really have not done any sightreading since I left my church job in 2012. The fast allegro movements were a little terrifying!
All in all, though, it was a most successful evening and no money changed hands! We just played music for the fun of it. Novel concept, right?