This video from my sister, Doris, is what greeted me when I opened up Facebook this morning. (Yes, it’s my birthday, and I’m going out to dinner three different nights this week!)
Of course, I recognized the organ right away from the preview picture—I didn’t need to play the video in order to confirm my hunch. It is the Hazel Wright organ (1982) at the former Crystal Cathedral, now called “Christ Cathedral,” by the Roman Catholics who purchased the building. After 30-some years of dust, heat and harsh sunlight, the organ was dismantled and shipped back to Padua, Italy, where it is undergoing restoration. It is scheduled to be returned to California late in 2018. The building will be rededicated in 2019.
In case you are wondering what the renovation of the building is all about, check out these articles:
What is amazing is that the organist is Mark Thallender, who recorded this version of ‘Happy Birthday’ on “Hazel’s 30th birthday.” As some of you know, Mark was in a serious auto accident in 2003 where he lost his arm. He has continued to concertize and play the organ, and you can read his story here. [UPDATE: Mark told me this recording was taken without his knowledge. The video has garnered over 100,000 views!]
Carl Crosier and I went to an organ recital in this space, and it was SO LOUD (!) that we had to plug our ears with our fingers. Carl used to tell people that it was like being underneath a jet engine!
I also found this video with four different organists improvising on “Happy birthday” at Oberlinger Orgel in St. Joseph, Bonn-Beuel: Olivier Latry (Paris / Frankreich), Vincent Dubois (Soissons / Frankreich), Paolo Oreni (Italien) und Michael Bottenhorn.
Leave it to organists to be creative, right?!