A Blessing in Music

“I will not let you leave me until you have blessed me.” Loosely translated, the patriarch, Jacob, spoke this to the angel with which he wrestled for a night, leaving him with an injured hip. Some five millennia later, I’m standing (for two and a half hours) on the Davies Hall stage, playing Messiah, with… [Read More]

Music and the Magic of Place

MUSIC AND THE MAGIC OF PLACE What is it in an object that seems to hold the energy of people that have used it before? And why does the association with these places and objects of significance excite us? I had the great fortune of joining the San Francisco Symphony on its Spring tour this… [Read More]

What I did last summer

I can’t recall how many times it happened, but it seems to me that most of my grade school years, through high school, had an English class which started with the assignment to write a short essay on “What I did last summer.” Long before we could even envision a life in which Facebook could… [Read More]

Old Masters

Going up the old, wooden, circular staircase, with a marine rope for a banister, I ascended to the organ loft of the 15th century church, St. Mariager – originally a Carmelite monastery and still echoing the monks’ plainsong singing of Salve Regina that would form the centerpiece of my recital there. Well, I wasn’t actually… [Read More]

That Tudor-Music Thing

I can remember it like it was yesterday: I was 16 years old and on an afternoon excursion with my high school friend, Betzi Robb. (Well, I think she was “Betsy” in those days.) We took a trip into Washington to visit Washington Cathedral, a favorite haunt of mine in my years growing up in… [Read More]

Advent in Germany

I used to think that England had the corner on the Christmas spirit; doesn’t America try to emulate that Dickensian depiction of Christmas each December?  But when I got to Germany and saw the Weihnachts Markt in Köln, I updated my opinion:  Germany has the corner on the Christmas scene!  Never have I seen people… [Read More]

Refléxion sur Paris

The past week has been one of extremes with respect to Paris, France and myself. A week ago I was basking in the sublime beauty of playing the music of Paris composer, Camille Saint-Saëns’, Organ Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony; and then, yesterday, the world learned the horrific news of a terrorist-led bloodbath in… [Read More]

Playing Onstage in Davies Concert Hall

Last week I had the privilege of working with renowned pianist Andras Schiff in a concert in which he played (as both soloist & accompanist) and conducted.  He conducted the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass which uses a string orchestra, trumpets, choir, and soloists.  This is an interesting piece both musically and historically; it was written… [Read More]

A High School Reunion

We eagerly anticipate them; and we dread them.  Reunions have the potential of stirring up old feelings of insecurity & resentment of long-forgotten cliques, but also the power to re-activate dormant friendships and stimulate new ideas.  For better and for worse, high school is a crucible, a culmination of the attitudes, behaviors, ethics, and responsibilities… [Read More]

A Concert Tour in Europe

I’m now in my late-50s, and the romanticism of playing music in Europe is still yet to wear thin. As a kid, I often fantasized about seeing, hearing, and (mostly) playing the great and glorious organs of Europe. True confessions: American organs have rarely held the same appeal to me – except to the extent… [Read More]