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]

Playing in Poland

1679 Wolff organ in Pelplin

Gdansk will surprise you. The historic center has been re-constituted to its Renaissance appearance (so that it is somewhat reminiscent off the great city of Amsterdam) even though it witnessed complete destruction in 1945. A 40-minute train ride south takes you to Pelplin – a rather insignificant village (from a tourist’s point of view) with… [Read More]

Playing in France

I keep oscillating back and forth about whether it’s better or worse to discover the secrets of French music in conditions of extreme heat. Having just played a concert at the cathedral of Montpellier, where the outside temperature was in the upper 90s, and the temperature at the organ was in the mid-80s, I went… [Read More]

Rehearsing and Performing

While it seems very obvious to anyone who performs as a musician, either professionally or as an amateur, I don’t think that everyone else is aware of the vast difference between performing and practicing. Probably at least once each month, someone expresses shock that I – having made music professionally for forty years – need… [Read More]