The joy (or headache) of being an organist is being able to adapt to different instruments on short notice. In my younger piano days, I remember the stress of having to play a different piano for an exam, eisteddfod or performance. You had to somehow quickly adapt to the touch, action, tone and geometry of the instrument. When playing a new organ, these things suddenly don’t seem so bad anymore. You see when you get onto a new piano, you’re always guaranteed 88 keys, a sustain/soft pedal and the physical layout is the same. With an organ, you’re faced with a variable number of keys (preferably 56+), several manuals (keyboards), expression pedals, a number of stops (each unique across different organs), a pedalboard (30/32 notes? concave or flat?) and much more!
It’s crazy to think that organists will travel around giving public recitals on unfamiliar organs or organs that they’ve only had a relationship with for a few hours right? In some sense yes, but we all eventually get used to doing this and we more or less “adapt”. I myself had to recently adapt. Unfortunately, one of my lunchtime recitals was cancelled this week due to a church closure (for a big clean). Since I had more or less a weeks notice, I decided to present the recital at another local church. Sure it was the mostly the same repertoire, but now I had to adapt it from a 32 rank French Canadian organ to a 6 rank chamber organ. Fortunately, as a local, I had sufficient time to rehearse and become a little more creative in bringing out colours from 6 stops! (special thanks to my registrant and page turner).
The recital went very well and I look forward to presenting some of the works again at my next lunchtime recital. You can listen to the live clips of the recital below via SoundCloud.
- Praeludium in E minor “Little” – N Bruhns
- Prelude in G major, BWV 568 – JS Bach
- Largo from Xerxes – GF Handel
- Ave Maria d’Arcadelt – F Liszt
- Chaconne in F minor – J Pachelbel
- Offertoire pour le Jour de Pâques (O filii et filiae) – J-F Dandrieu