This morning we visited five historic churches in Philadelphia, some dating as early as 1761. The first three took place in Roman Catholic parishes, although in the first church, services are only held a few times a year.
Organist Matthew Glandorf did an outstanding job on the 1892 Hook & Hastings organ at Holy Trinity Church, where the building dates from 1789.
The best part of his playing was his improvisation on “Ein feste Burg” which was the hymn we sang just before. He included many fugal elements and it sounded as though the piece was written out (except it wasn’t!) In the biography section, I read that he was a student of McNeil Robinson — no wonder his improvisations were so good!
May I remind you that it was McNeil Robinson who wowed Honolulu audiences with his improvisation in 1975 when the Beckerath organ was dedicated, and two years later Neil came back to play two recitals plus our wedding.
We heard Isaac Drewes at the gorgeous Carmelite Monastery of Philadelphia next, and I liked his performance of Samuel Barber’s “Wondrous Love,” which was the hymn we sang. The Philadelphia Carmel was the birthplace of devotion to St. Therese, the “Little Flower,” in the United States.
The concert just before lunch was at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church and was performed by organist Alan Morrison. I thought his interpretation of the Mozart “F-Minor Fantasy” was brilliantly creative — he had so many echo effects, individual solos, and registration changes, that I don’t know how he managed it all so well.
As I was exiting the church, a man tapped me on the shoulder, “You probably don’t remember me, but … ” It turned out to be Eric Wicks, a former student of John McCreary and one of our Hawaii American Guild of Organists scholarship recipients! He is now the organist of the First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, CO and his 10-year-old son was with him, and also studies the organ! I can’t express how thrilled and proud I was that he let me know how one of our scholarship students turned out! He said he gave an organ recital this past spring and dedicated it to the memory of John McCreary. I have the vague recollection that he was in the 8th grade when he received the Hawaii AGO scholarship.
The afternoon recitals were in unairconditioned churches and I started feeling awfully sleepy because of the huge lunch we were served. The two recitals were at adjacent churches, Old Pine Street Presbyterian and St. Paul’s Episcopal, with organists Wesley Parrott and Caroline Robinson. I’m sure they played well, but I was thinking that my jet lag is catching up with me.
Tonight we’ll be at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts celebrating 60 years of the Organ Historical Society and 10 years of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ.