Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Making the organ sing!

Last weekend I went to an organ recital in Histon Baptist Church.  I have been attending for three years and never once heard it played.  Forlornly shuttered away on one side, it has been replaced by the music groups who accompany our worship services.  Apparently no one in the congregation is proficient enough to play it!

However, last Saturday Dr. David Rowland, the Director of Music at Christ's College Cambridge and also (most propitiously) the father-in-law of our Youth Minister gave an organ recital.  After opening remarks he sat at the organ with his page-turner at his side and launched into the famous Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.  I could not believe it.  This instrument took off with amazing timbre and volume.  I have heard this played so often but here in my own church was a glorious surprise. I was astounded at its quality and said so to my neighbor who agreed.

After this colossal piece, David explained the concert was in aid of refurbishing the organ.' Isn't it odd to give a recital on an organ that needs refurbishing', he asked. 'Well, yes, but I have practiced to try and compensate for where pipes no longer work.  Some of the pedals are inactive. Some of the keys stick.  It requires a heavy touch and you cannot be sure whether it will run out of air...but we shall see!'  As he continued to play Vivaldi, Franck (and Couperin on the harpsichord) I marveled that he had so compensated for the instrument's faults that the music worked beautifully with barely a hiccup.   At the interval one of the visitors said: 'A really good musician can really make even a poor instrument to work well'.  Certainly, he did.

And it doesn't take much of a preacher to see a little parable here about how in our own weaknesses God can also work out his glory. We can make far better music for him than we realize! I hope the organ is eventually refurbished to contribute to blended worship and I am thankful for the lesson.

4 comments:

Brian Astell said...

Thanks for encouragement. In Jan. I took on accompanying Stainer's "Crucifixion" with small choir for Good Friday, BUT HAD NOT SEEN ORGAN OR CHURCH. Today when I went over for first time I was SO disappointed at organ and lack of facilities to do justice to a fine work. Then I read your blog and realised -you just have to get on with it. But have learned a lesson -see the instrument first before saying "Yes". Brian Astell

MichaelQuicke said...

I am sure, knowing your skills that you made even this instrument sing! But, yes, seeing the situation beforehand is recommended. I find this with modern technology too. I always try out the amplification equipment etc. if I can. I have been caught out badly in the past.

Brian Astell said...

Follow up to comment. Went Sunday to First full rehearsal of "Crucifixion" -met "conductor" lovely bloke who told me he had never conducted,and it showed. Poor choir so willing,kept getting blamed for the leader's mistakes [sermon here] After a while I turned the mirror round and they all had to follow me. This concert is like walking on eggshells.

MichaelQuicke said...

Oh Brian! Let us know how turning the mirror round works out! Presumably going public is happening soon!