29 May 2010

Dream Come True, Round Two

Disclaimer (you'd expect this from a lawyer's blog): This post is part of ongoing if intermittent efforts to keep from sounding like Johnny One Note and show that Scrum Central's author does have a somewhat balanced life outside the handful of subjects that tend to dominate discussion here. Said author actually hesitated to even mention the subject of this post, not wanting to give the wrong impression, but ultimately concluded that bona fide excitement over a special event and truthful sharing with friends could stand on their own merits.


OK, that's over. Now on to the fun stuff. The handful of you who've read this blog for more than a few weeks know how much I love big cathedrals and pipe organs. Some years ago when I was in Washington D.C. on business, I remembered a prior visit and question to the National Cathedral staff as to whether they ever allowed guest organists to play or practice on the cathedral organ. Sure, they said, if you have the right experience and make prior arrangements.

So before that trip I called them up and asked. And they said yes! So for 90 minutes that Saturday morning I had the National Cathedral all to myself and made the roof tiles shake. This is the 6th largest cathedral in the world, mind you, 83,000 square feet of space, with a nave over 450 feet long. And one of the world's biggest pipe organs. It was like being an experienced but humble private pilot used to maybe four seater planes suddenly being invited to fly a B-1 Bomber or a new 747. That experience made me immune to any lure of drugs or alcohol, since no chemical could equal the natural high of having that huge instrument at my command, making such incredible sound in such an incredible space.
Well guess what. The weekend before the 4th of July this year we will be back in Washington D.C. So I called up the National Cathedral again and asked again. A day later, the Cathedral Organist himself called back and said Sure, you'd be welcome, what time would work for you? I said You pick, you're going out of your way to accommodate me on a very busy pre-holiday weekend and I will take whatever time's most convenient. He called back later that day and said "The Cathedral organ is yours from 7 pm onward on Saturday 3rd July. Stay as long as you want, security is there 24/7. Enjoy!"


If you're a writer, this is like being invited to write for the New York Times. If you're an athlete, it's like being invited to play as a guest member of a pro team. If you're an artist, it's like having your work hung in the Louvre. As a musician, to have one of the world's most powerful instruments completely at my disposal, in such an incredibly beautiful place, is intoxicating. Literally a dream come true. I can't wait. So you'll understand my excitement and my wanting to share. BTW, that picture there isn't the whole organ. It's only about 1/4. There's another group of pipes just like that on the other side of the choir aisle just above the organ console--which has four keyboards--and another one at the far end of the cathedral nave, over the main entrance. And another at the head of the choir I think.

If you want a taste yourself, here's a clip of one of the pieces I'll be playing, done in the National Cathedral and on the same organ. So this is what I'll sound like. Though I'll play this piece a little faster. Nobody will enjoy this as much as I will, but I hope you like it even so!

4 comments:

TGD said...

I'll be in DC that weekend too. I hope I get a chance to swing buy and listen.

Quiet Song said...

I am really excited for you. A dream vacation for me would be touring the european cathedrals. About 4 years I helped rescue a pipe organ here in my town from an ignominious fate. It was setting abandoned in the local university's music department due to no one knowing how to fix it. I am told that the only problem with it is that the electrical cord had become disconnected within the cabinet . . . It is in a private home now with a gentleman who played it when he was a student in the sixties at the then "college." It was coincidence I was able to make the match for these two.

Joe Conflict said...

How incredible that must have felt. I have a client that builds these organs. His workshop is a huge old church--filled with all sorts of strange tools, wood, pipes, etc. Its always fun to visit him.

GeckoMan said...

How very cool. Would love to be there, too. I hope you have a great time with the music. What else are you preparing for the occasion?