November 2, 2002
Vol. II, No. 40
"All of a Piece"
Each piece in my repertoire is like one of my children, going through the stages of birth, development, and, hopefully, maturity. Like a parent, I have memories from each stage of a piece's life and these memories come flooding back every time I play that particular piece. The Fantasia (BWV 572) is no exception. I've been working on it for my upcoming recital and every time I run through it, I think about...
...the day I started learning it with Garth Peacock, my organ professor at Oberlin. It was Fall 1984 and I had to begin preparations for my Jr. Recital the following spring. I can still remember the forest green, hardcover library binding of the Peters Edition. Lessons that year had to be in cold Finney Chapel on the Aeolian-Skinner, while they renovated the home of Bertha -- that's what Garth called the Warner Concert Hall Organ (Flentrop).
...delaying my recital until the following fall so I could play it on Bertha. Better to wait and play Franck on Bertha than have to perform Bach on the Skinner. By the way, the Skinner in Finney Chapel was recently replaced with a new Fisk. A 44-stop tracker without any combination action, I sometimes worry that Bertha's days are numbered, too. Pictures don't do her justice:
...Garth bouncing from my left side to my right and back again as he pulled stops and turned pages for me, all the while urging me to relax and pushing down my tense, hunched shoulders.
...delaying my recital again because of a foot injury. As a Junior in the Conservatory, I had to play my recital from memory. The foot injury actually turned out to be a godsend.
...having the honor of pulling stops and turning pages for Garth's Faculty Recital. It was especially fun because he had also programmed the Fantasia and we worked on it simultaneously.
...Garth using the Fantasia's "Grave" section to demonstrate how beautiful the 8' principal was on Bertha. Besides being beautiful, you could also clearly hear the inner voices of the five-voice texture. Garth said it was a stop you could play "all day."
...playing the Fantasia through a blinding headache at a recital in St. Peter's Lutheran Church, NYC. It was probably the best performance of that piece I ever gave. I don't know if my tears were from joy or pain.
Every time I play the Fantasia, all of these memories are bouncing around inside my head. It's amazing I can even get through it!
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