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December 23, 2004
Vol. IV, No. 32

"Happy Holiday Crush!"
Longer than usual gaps between my Rampages? And between my BLOG entries, too? Hmmm....It must be Christmas! It's one thing to plan for Christmas. It's quite another to be in the thick of it. What a trip!

For the past few years, I have played Christmas music in church starting on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and ending on the Sunday after Christmas. Because I also play a Wednesday night service, it all adds up to a lot of Christmas music.

Last year I think I pretty much copied what I had played the year before and so I was able to submit my music to the church office all in one block. This year I decided to take one week at a time and review whether or not I wanted to change anything. Fortunately, for the most part, I just made minor tweaks. Here is a PDF of the music I played:

Now, that would be plenty, what with the usual holiday shopping and wrapping and general running around but as some of you may remember I also play an annual Christmas Eve concert at the church. This will be the tenth year and I'm hoping to make it the most interesting ever.

Over the years I've built the concert program around a variety of themes but this year I'm trying to bring together the best elements from all those previous concerts.
--For many years, I opened with Gloria!, Owen Griffin's arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High. I dropped it for the past couple of years to give it a rest but now I put it back and right smack in the middle so everyone can hear it. I used to have it at the beginning because it was more contemporary than the other arrangements I played and I was a bit self-conscious about it. I decided it wouldn't be as conspicuous at the beginning and not so many people would hear it. I guess I'm over my reservations about it.
--The Chimes and Harp of the organ only became usable after the Echo division was renovated a few years ago. Since then I've tried to feature them every year in some way. This year they will be used in Silent Night, Away in the Manger, and O Little Town of Bethlehem.
--I'm not sure what year I composed and started using my Fanfare but ever since there's always been a spot somewhere in the concert that seemed to call for it.
-- A first appearance in this year's program is an arrangement of Greensleeves by Roper that is particularly beautiful.
--Another first appearance is an arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen combined with Sing We Now of Christmas. I have practiced this piece for years but this is the first time I ever felt it was ready for primetime. It's a fun one. Lots of triplets.
--Carol singing at the end of the concert is something we started a few years ago. We didn't do it last year because the concert preceded the Wednesday night service and it seemed awkward. But it's back again this year with verses of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, and Silent Night.
--Though time is short, I'm trying to work in a couple of surprises. I'll have to let you know after Christmas if and how those go.
--Also, another first, I'm going to try to record the concert. If I'm successful, I'll try to make some mp3s available online.

Well, tomorrow's the big night. Don't forget to put out carrots and cookies!

Two years ago, at about this time, I was cooling down from my recital at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Some of you may remember my take-off on a familiar poem that came to me while seated at the St. Thomas console during a late-night rehearsal for that recital. I thought it was worth trotting out again for the holiday.

'Twas the Night...

'Twas the night before my recital, when all through the church-house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a church mouse;
My music was stacked by the console with care,
In hopes that correct notes soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While I was up practicing, filling with dread;
Each piston changed the stops with a snap,
I'd have rather been draining a giant nightcap!

When out of the Swell there arose such a clatter,
I jumped off the bench to see what was the matter.
Away to the chamber I flew like a flash,
Pried open the shutters and threw out my back.

I pulled out the cipher to go on with the show
And staggered back down to the console below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a security guard with his hands on his ears,

With a little old flashlight, so lively and quick,
He shined and he questioned until I was sick.
He looked at my program like a man insane,
Then he smiled, and shouted, and called them by name;

That's a whole recital and not just a postlude!"
To the top of the church for his friends he did call
And I had to play the whole thing for them all.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So over the keys my fingers they flew,
Amazing my feet on the pedalboard, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard to my right
A roaring of laughter filling the night.
As I got off the bench, and was turning around,
Down the facade slid Old Bach, all the way to the ground.

He looked much like the pictures you see in the books,
After all of these years, he still had his looks;
He put on the shoes that were slung on his back,
And pulled some old music from out of his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! His fingers how merry!
His toes were like birds, a quick tune they could carry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the hair on his head was as white as the snow;

He played a great cantus with four voices beneath,
Til the music encircled our heads like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he played like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight through each werk,
Then completing a cadence he turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the facade he rose;

He sprang to the Choir and silenced a whistle,
Then faded away without an epistle.
But I heard him exclaim, my Germanic idol,

Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

Updated Pages
The BLOGs are updated. Read Susan's follow-up to her recital and Victor has made two entries since I last announced updates. I'd also like to welcome the newest BLOGger, Vic Kovacs, who has also been very busy. The link below leads to the main BLOG page and the links below that lead to the individual BLOGs. If you are interested in contributing by writing your own BLOG, please email me.

Susan Burkhalter
"Performance Aftermath" - AFTERMATH OF MY ORGAN CONCERT I played Fantaisie in A by Cesar Franck in Dale Krider's "5 Organists on Halloween" Concert, on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004 at 5:30 P.M. It was actually called "Students of Dale Krider." All of the organists, including one who....
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Victor Frost
"XII 04" - I started this monthly blog in January, so this entry closes out my first year. I would do a lot of the things I did a lot differently now, but the culture of blogs (which for some people are daily or even more frequent events) is that you just write what....
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Vic Kovacs
"December 1, 2004" - Sorry all about not writing in here sooner. Last Sunday, November 28th was my recital. Everything went well, except for a few minor problems with the organ. For a few split seconds one of the pipes of the nasard stuck open, and a pedal got stuck down in the....
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Dan Long
"Project Practice (12/13/04)" - Things were going fairly well until the holidays hit. Now I'm occupied with preparing Christmas music. On Sundays, I play 3 or 4 pieces for the prelude, a collection piece and a postlude. I still play a second postlude that's Bach. Yesterday I played the Gigue....
Click here to proceed to CD Sheet Music

WHAT I'M READING..."Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park" by Marie Winn. This is a big story in NYC right now but I was reading this book before all the latest excitement happened. In 1991, a Red-tailed Hawk decided to make Central Park home and took up residence high up on the face of a Fifth Avenue building. This book doesn't include the latest development, which is that people in the building had the hawks' nest taken down and angered the local birders. The latest just out today is that a new nest has been put up for the hawks. Great book on the nature of Central Park in general. Click the link below for more information on this book:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's Book Club:

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO..."Trilogy" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I think this was my first ELP album and I think it's my favorite although just barely. That's a tough one. Classically-influenced music, virtuosic playing, distorted Hammond organ and lots of synthesizer solos and Minimoog bass. And on top of it all, they know how to have a good time. What fun! Click the link below for more information on this CD:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's CD Club:

WHAT I'M WATCHING..."Pale Male (1978)" Starring: Pale Male. The book, "Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park" was followed by a PBS Nature episode devoted to the male hawk, Pale Male. I would rather the time spent on the enthusiasm of the birders had been used to show even more about the hawks but otherwise a very fascinating story. Great for kids, too! Click the link below for more information on this DVD:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's DVD Club:


Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Dan Long

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