Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Article excerpt

Whether you're religious or not, whether you're Jewish or Christian, there is an unmistakable focus on this time of year as one for "gifting," and I find myself thinking about the gift of music and the gift of music's "connectivity."

This connection happens in a variety of dimensions, of course. Playing a piece of music can take us back to the organ studio of our teacher as we remember the advice, encouragement, and admonitions to "count" and "shape the phrase."

Music connects us with the people with whom we sang or played. Former choir members often e-mail me with warm remembrances when they've heard one of the major works we performed together in services or for our AIDS benefit concerts.

This works in other ways, too, as music calls to mind the people who were honored at the time the music was sung. There are three hymns I particularly associate with my grandfather - one that he sang to me when I was young, and two that were sung at his funeral. And I never hear any of them without waves of wonderful memories flooding over me. Similarly, there are certain anthems or oratorio movements that bring to mind people whose favorites they were.

Music is a powerful "community builder," connecting us with the people we're making music with in "real time. " I recently played for a service in memory of the wife of a tenor in the choir I used to conduct. It brought together people who hadn't been in the same space at the same time for several years - all singing the same music again, in a glorious "community of sound," in memory of this remarkable woman. The late Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) used to say, "We sing to each other or listen to music together or make music together in the knowledge that the sharing of sound makes us all belong to each other, enables us to give all of ourselves in every way we can, with all the feeling we have inside."

Last summer, I was invited to play again at the first church I served after graduating from college. …

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