Magazine article The Tracker

Dear Members and Friends

Magazine article The Tracker

Dear Members and Friends

Article excerpt

As I sat down to write this column, sheets of sunlight poured through the windows and then a sudden change of weather brought such dense fog that it was impossible to make out images beyond those windows. All of that was beautiful to me - from sunlight to dense fog. At that moment the silence was somehow dense silence - and also very beautiful. I sat happily, enjoying the simple act of living. But, of course, it wasn't so simple. It seems to me that we have been given splendid gifts that allow our eyes and ears to derive great pleasure from a multitude of experiences. What great gifts they are.

Having the honor to encounter a great pipe organ presents these gifts in full measure. The work of a fine organbuilder provides visual excitement, tactile rewards, and incredible bursts of sonic pleasure. While all that is true and marvelously rewarding in my own life, there is nothing that says you cannot enjoy other music, other instruments. Some people are absolutely hung up on a narrow range of sounds they will tolerate, channel surfing through life while avoiding any unknown musical occurrence, living in the midst of a sonic banquet, while allowing only the familiar, the banal to come through.

Last fall, a blogger for the Boston Globe wrote a careless piece suggesting that to save declining church attendance "the first thing we must do is kill all the organs." She wrote nothing to suggest that she had a clue about great music, the great music in Boston, or that she would willingly walk across the street to hear a great organ. In another blog, however, she cheerfully admits to traveling around the Boston area to enjoy the varied pleasures of Chick-fil-A.

In recent years there have been many assaults on the pipe organ as the pre-eminent instrument for musical expression in the church. There have been a lot of attempts to replace the organ for church use by emulating folk music and pop music with second-rate imitations of the real stuff. Yikes! Recent financial downturns have made the act of signing a contract for a fine pipe organ a major act of faith, a difficult time, indeed. And yet, during this period, builders have taken on the rebuilding of venerable instruments while waiting for those contracts to be signed. Now again, little by little, some new organs are starting to appear. …

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