If you have been a reader of my blog, you’ll know why I am now in California; I am the guest of George Emblom and Jonathan Dimmock in San Francisco as I am preparing to play an organ recital at George’s church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley, CA this Sunday night, November 13. The organ was built by D.A. Flentrop in 1971, and George has been the organist-choirmaster of St. Mark’s for twenty-five years. It was just about a year ago that Jonathan came to Hawaii to play the Duruflé Requiem concert in memory of Carl Crosier.
While George was teaching a lesson, I went exploring and ended up at The Musical Offering, a cafe and CD shop. As I was eating a delicious ham and cheese baguette, the music wafting over the intercom was unmistakably Bach! It was music from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier! How utterly civilized! Wouldn’t it be great if more restaurants played Bach! Now I don’t know if this restaurant exclusively plays Bach—all I know was that I heard Bach the whole time I was eating my lunch.
I had the Flentrop organ all to myself for three hours and loved exploring all its colors. I had been warned that it might have stiff action, but to the contrary, I found the organ very easy and a breeze to handle. The room is very live and resonant and the organ just sounds beautiful in this space.
The facilities of the church are just amazing as you can see by these photos that I took around the church, especially the choir rehearsal space and the music library.
After listening to George teach a lesson to a very talented and accomplished 16 year old, we then headed for The Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) where George is a professor of church music and plays for the weekly Thursday night Eucharist.
The service was planned two weeks ago and was meant to be a source of healing because of election strife! Little did the planners know the surprising outcome of the upset election! The sermon focused on Pope Leo The Great (5th c.) who led the church to be a source of calm strength, justice and peace in the midst of a failing empire. Sound familiar?
When I turned around to greet the person in the pew directly behind me, I was surprised to shake hands with former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori! After the service, I reminded her of her visit to St. Elizabeth’s in Honolulu, where I had formerly worked as the parish administrator. She asked why I was in Berkeley and so I told her about my recital. She said that she might come!
Oh, one last word about the St. Mark’s organ: When I told John Renke about my apprehension about going to a strange organ, John said:
You’ll be fine! You’re a tracker girl!!!