By far the question that people ask me most is, “Where are you going next?”
Why, thank you for asking. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a quick trip to Sacramento, California, where I’ll be attending a niece’s wedding. Luckily I have no responsibilities except to show up and enjoy the festivities. But I’ll be home by Monday morning, meaning that I will be gone scarcely 30 hours, so that I can teach an organ lesson by early afternoon!
I also just booked my air ticket to Kona on the Big Island, where I will again play organ continuo for the Kona Choral Society’s annual Messiah the first weekend in December, my fourth year in a row of doing this. This year the chorus will also sing John Rutter’s Gloria.
Last night, though, I booked tickets for two weeks in Querétaro, Mexico, where I’ll be spending Christmas and New Year’s. In addition to experiencing how my daughter-in-law’s family celebrates these holidays, we’ll also celebrate the baptism of grandson Andrés, a huge deal in Mexican culture. My daughter-in-law Jessica says that the festivities will go on for many, many hours!
Of course we have been very concerned the last few days since the 7.1 Mexico City earthquake, and worried about Jessica’s family. We are told that they are shaken, but are okay, and have not suffered any property damage.
In doing a little research, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the historic downtown Querétaro is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are several historic churches in Querétaro, and there are even historic pipe organs! In fact, my new friend Jieun Newland told me that she went on tour with the Yale Institute of Sacred Music to Mexico, and they were able to play numerous historic organs.
And in 2005, Minnesota Public Radio host, Michael Barone, led a tour group to Mexico. You can see some of the publicity materials here.
He writes: Were you aware that well into the 1800s, two historic pipe organs in the Cathedral of Mexico City were the largest musical instruments in the Americas and maintained that status for more than a century? And did you realize that the playing of pipe organs in the New World was documented as early as 1545?
Europe may be the traditional seat of historic organ culture, but the Spanish incursion to Mexico planted a positive artistic seed, the fruit of which we will savor during this exciting nine-day adventure. In Mexico’s past centuries, untold wealth made possible the construction of vividly decorated church buildings and the inclusion in them of intricate, vibrant musical instruments.
Looking forward to a Christmas adventure in Mexico!