For me hearing him play a liturgical service, masterfully improvising on the hymn tunes which either came before or after the various parts of the service was so totally thrilling—to hear him have come this far and this well truly fills me with such joy and pride.When we saw him before the service, Joey apologized in advance that half the choir was not there this morning having just sung a big Evensong at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, New York City, last week and many in the choir are sick. “It’s Low Sunday,” he said.
Still, there was plenty of music in the service. Joey played Bach’s “Liebster Jesu” in front of the first hymn, which was the same tune, building to a grand crescendo to accommodate the large procession. The choir sang an Anglican psalm, an offertory and communion anthems, and a descant on the offertory hymn. The Ordinary consisted of the Robert Powell Gloria, Calvin Hampton’s Sanctus and Benedictus, a Fraction Anthem by Jack Warren Burnam, and Joey’s postlude was the Fugue on ALAIN by Duruflé. Plenty of music, right, and then some.
What I really appreciated was that today’s choir of about 35 people included both adults and children—Joey tells me there are normally twice the number of kids that we saw today. Still, isn’t this a great educational experience for these children! I would say that the youngest ones were only about 8-9 years old. I think usually they have about 20 kids in the choir.
Afterwards Joey again apologized for having our first impression of St. Paul’s be today, and we kept saying that there was absolutely nothing to apologize for—this would be first rate anywhere.
By the way, the man who drove me to the church this morning was “Uncle” Gary Loughrey, who has taken Joey “under his wing” ever since he was introduced to him at an AGO meeting by my long-time friend, Barbara Adler. Gary has just retired as an airline pilot, but is also interested in organ building and architecture. I met him last year at Joey’s concert in Dwight Chapel.
A woman came up to me after the service and said, “You must be Joey’s mom!” (No, his second mom!” ) She said they were so very grateful to have him as the organist there.
Tonight is his master’s recital in Woolsey Hall, truly one of the great organs in America, played by a lover of the organ since he was in preschool. What a great journey this has been!
Joey is a gift to all who come into his life. Aren’t we lucky!