What is awe-inspiring and amazing about concert organists is that they can jump from organ to organ, and with seemingly little effort, can register their pieces and play with ease, no matter how different each instrument is, no matter the acoustic, the touch, and the stops. And believe me, all organs are different and not created equal!
When Nathan Laube showed me the organ at Bourges Cathedral, which had no combination action, and he had to have a three-hour rehearsal just with the two registrants on each side of the console (these are human stop-pullers!), I was truly amazed that he could pull together his concert so quickly, with an entirely different repertoire than the concert I heard him play only a couple of weeks before at the Organ Historical Society.)
But I also have to pat myself on the back when I think about the Hawaii Vocal Arts Ensemble’s recent trip to Ireland. Sometimes I only had as little as 5 minutes to find the right stops on a strange organ, somehow everything came together. And I somehow registered the complete Fauré Requiem on the organ at Christchurch Cathedral Dubin in only about half an hour. It was truly a miracle!
I’m home now, but have mostly been cooped up in my apartment for the last six days — you got it, ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been sick! I’m afraid that nearly all those six weeks of staying up past midnight every night and getting up at 5:00 am is catching up with me. It started with a sore throat, then developed into a dry cough, then congestion, then body aches and pains because of coughing all night. And because I’m still waking up around midnight every night because of my jet lag, I haven’t been able to sleep very well.
Even though I taught six lessons this week, today is really the first day I’ve ventured out to practice. You remember that I tried playing some of my concert pieces at the American Cathedral of Paris, (see my post “The American Cathedral“) and how my fingers just didn’t “work” the way they should! At the time I called it “rusty” fingers, but what I was expecting today after six weeks was “rubber” fingers, with absolutely no control. I’m happy to report that with a few minor exceptions, all my pieces are in quite good shape! What a relief!
I was reminded of the story of Sparky’s Magic Piano, a record I played over and over on a 78 rpm player when I was growing up. The line that has stuck with me to this day is, “I won’t go . . . I won’t go unless my very own piano goes with me!”
I do hope I’m not like Sparky, and can only play my program on only one organ! But every time I sit down at a strange organ, I keep hearing Sparky’s voice: “I won’t go . . . I won’t go unless my very own (organ) goes with me!”