May. 11, 2020

That Look

That look.
It says it all.
This is puppeteer, actor, Presbyterian minister, pianist, and gifted song-writer Mr. Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood on PBS television, seated at the 1917 IV/108 Skinner organ of Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an instrument rebuilt by Aeolian-Skinner in 1933.
Not many are fully aware of what a fine musician Mr. Rogers happened to be; besides writing all the basic music for his television show he also graduated magna cum laude from Rollins College in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in music composition, was an accomplished performer at the piano, and could play the organ casually because of his piano training.
His expression captures what organists have felt from the first moment they had in their command a really large pipe organ and first heard its glorious voice respond to their own fingers and feet and mind.
That experience does something to the new organist that's hard to describe ...
This is the most gorgeous musical instrument to the ears of organists in existence; the beauty of its voices, its tremendous pitch and dynamic spectra which exceeds that of the grand symphony orchestra and sounds like a symphony of players, its incredible ability to express the entire range of human emotion at the touch of a key, its awesome capacity to affect its listeners at a raw, visceral level, and its sheer, thrilling power transports them to a different realm ... to the place where creation has its home ... to a place of unlimited scope where, for a little while, they're in touch with their own soul in another dimension and in perfect union, able to hear only the sounds of the music, virtually unaware of anything else going on around them.
Hearing the inspired music written by composers for this wonder of an instrument gives organists a glimpse of another world ... a kingdom of LIght filled with power, love, and purpose ... three things our own broken world desperately needs.
This is as "high" as they can ever be with sounds that touch the essence of who and what they are, and it feels to them like it must be genetic.
All organists can relate back to the time when the pipe organ first did this to them [See blog, The Pipe Organ Bug], and they feel it all over again each time they hear it in person up close.