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Upcoming events:

June 3 Musicians with a Mission (Canterbury Place) 2:15 pm
June 13th private performance in Ohio noon
June 15th private performance in Ohio 7pm

June 20  7 p.m.
"Which Way is Up?" piano concert at Sycamore Presbyterian Church, 11800 Mason Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45249

June 27 5 p.m. Organ Recital at Westminster Presbyterian Church,  2040 Washington Road  Pittsburgh, PA 15241 FREE
this week's featured recording for 5.17.19
Sonata in C Hob. I/WU 10 by Franz Joseph Haydn  (1732-1809)

 This week on the blog:    Friday, May 17, 2019
Concert at St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh

My fingers are tired.

This does not happen often, though I am asked about it so frequently that when I posted a question and answer page on my website several years ago the first question I responded to was exactly that. The page is called "Aren't your fingers tired? A friendly question and answer page for the curious."

Usually the answer is no, because I practice several hours a day, and when people wonder after a one hour concert if my fingers are tired I explain to them that one hour is not very long for me to exercise my digits on an average day. But yesterday I did quite a bit of practice. In the morning I remember a period when, sitting at the organ, I was pushing my fingers pretty hard into the keys. From a musical standpoint there is no reason at all to do this, but it felt right to be confidently releasing my fingers into the keys as I sought to connect the muscle moves with my brain while assimilating the music. It seemed to fuse the connections, make the music mine. I had a piano teacher who suggested I should practice forte while learning.

Still, fingers are muscles,...

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On deadline
from August 8, 2018

Somebody asked me the other day if I just played the piano for fun. Having found out that I am a professional musician it occurred to her to wonder whether I ever approached the instrument the way an amateur would, simply to derive enjoyment from the playing and not care if and when the piece was ready for prime time--perhaps not even to get that worked up over mistakes that would not be cited in the paper.

My answer? sort of. Then I elaborated.

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The Beginnings of Musical Notation

(the Pope gets "inspired" by the thought of written music) 



"Imagine being able to sing at sight a melody you had never heard before. The very idea would have been considered madness until Odo made his spectacular claims. Now, music was about to become "a thing made," and composers began to get a little more respect. But changing local customs, now that was the real struggle. "

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Putting on the brakes
the finale of the "Flashy French Organ Toccata" Series

Steve thought he'd have a little fun. I was conducting a small group of singers from The Chorale from a seated position on the living room floor (I told someone it felt like being a cross between a conductor and a Rabbi). The singers were seated on couches and chairs or standing behind them. When I cut everybody off at the end, Steve kept right on holding the note. I turned to him and said, "so you're the guy during the Hallelujah chorus...!"

That joke immediately registers with singers, who recognize the spot toward the end of the piece when, after eight repetitions of the word "hallelujah!"--suddenly, there is a pause. Dead silence. Unless, of course, someone hasn't been counting their hallelujahs and sings an impromptu solo. woops.

 The silence, of course, is followed by the grand conclusion, loud, majestic, and very slow. As we wrap up our series on Flashy French Organ Toccatas this is the last feature I want to point out--what happens at the end. We've noted that all of these toccatas are very busy--that there is a constant stream of notes, that most of them are very loud, that some of them have contrasting melodic sections in the middle before returning to the atmosphere of the opening, that the overall plan of these pieces is actually very simple but the shower of notes makes them sound complicated, and that they usually get louder toward the end, crescendoing to a mighty climax.

But all good things must come to an end. 


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