Oct. 28, 2020

Pleasing Everyone

This photo image bluntly illustrates an important principle:
The organist is the only musician on the face of this earth who plays
too loud and too soft ...
too fast and too slow ...
too detached and too connected ...
too mechanically and too ad lib ...
too insipid and too dramatically ...
too predictably and too unpredictably ...
all at the same time.
The lesson for organists is this: be not tentative.
Don't be hesitant to play loudly when the music calls for it; don't be timid about drawing the stronger stops and opening the swell shutters to dramatize the music at dramatic places.
Being able to play delicately is an important part of organ playing.
People also want to hear what this organ of theirs can do -- they want to hear its full voice.
The organist is the master of the most stupendous, the most wonderful musical instrument ever fabricated by the hand of man, one which can express the entire range of human emotion and sensitivity at the touch of a key.
This implies that, no matter how large or small the instrument at hand may be, we should never be afraid to use the organ's sheer, thrilling power judiciously to bring out all the majestic powers at work on the page; the same applies when improvising.
The organist has yet to be born who can please everyone.
Bottom line: In situations where the organist is free to do so and the musical requirements would be enhanced thereby, there is no reason to be reticent about drawing full combinations and opening the swell box.
As for those listeners in the crowd who are drawn to good orchestral music but have never learned that the organ also can be played orchestrally with color, life, and spirit, who expect nothing from the organist save for the production of some kind of dull, stodgy sound never over a mezzo-piano dynamic they admit they can't bear, one of two things will happen ...
They'll either die -- or get over it in a big way.