Same repertoire, different organs

Same repertoire, different organs

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.

Recital programme: 30 April 2017 – St Mary’s Jindera, 3.00pm
  • 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


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