What can we do to help revive the organ culture in the world? Are there any productive ways a single person can help to change the course of the future of our profession?
My answer is EDUCATION. Not preaching about the organ to strangers from the roofs, though, but persistently showing attention to people who have curiosity. And believe me, there are a lot more people with curiosity about organ and its art than it might seem at first.
I believe that in our multi-media age we have more than enough tools to help the people grow and inspire. Many of them are free and cost only your energy and time. It might be as simple as starting a blog and sharing your experiences from recitals of organ music you attended or as advanced as creating multiple lectures about the history of the organ art.
I know that recitals of classical organ music are not well attended in many countries. We face the same challenge in Lithuania. If I played jazz or pop music on the organ, then surely many more people would come.
But what would happen if I consistently showed up and write a little post about some organ piece in my language, what would happen if I started a project which was genuine, unique, and worth talking about even though it might not work?
Even though there was a thought in the back of my mind, saying "this is foolish. You are wasting your time. It will never work.", I gave it a try. Actually, I gave it a try BECAUSE of that voice to prove it was wrong.
So a little more than a year ago I started playing series of organ recitals from the cycle of "Seven Centuries of Organ Music" at my church dedicated to a different composer or national school of organ composition. About once a month whenever possible.
And yesterday I gave my 12th recital from this cycle at Vilnius University St. John's church. This time it was all Bach recital in which I tried to show the fans of organ music in Lithuania some of the nicest pieces from the wide range of compositions by organ's greatest composer.
The timing was suited for this kind of program - it's getting close to Bach's birthday - March 21st. I wanted to include in my program as much as possible of fast/slow, soft/loud, and sad/joyful music contrast so that the listeners could keep their focus throughout the recital.
Here is the program of this recital:
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Trio sonata No. 1 in E flat major, BWV 525
Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547
„O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig“, BWV 656
„Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele“, BWV 654
Piece d‘Orgue, BWV 572
I have to say that the recital was quite well attended - many more listeners than usual for organ concert came last night. Maybe it was partly due to the nice spring weather (though it was still cold with freezing temperatures), or to the fact that BWV 565 was on the program or perhaps my efforts to grow the fan base of organ music lovers are starting to pay off.
By the way, today I would like to share a video excerpt from my last night's recital - "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele", BWV 654 from the Great 18 Chorale Preludes, also known as the Leipzig Chorale Preludes.
This is one of Felix Mendelssohn's most favorite Bach's organ compositions, in which ornamented Cantus Firmus in the soprano is accompanied by the three lower voices which move in the rhythm of the sarabande. Sarabande is a Baroque dance of the Spanish origin which has frequent harmonic accents on the 2nd beat in the triple meter.
The alto and tenor parts were played from the original alto C clef (which was fun) on the Principal 8' stop from the 3rd manual. In the pedals I chose Principals 16' and 8'. In the beautiful ornamented soprano part - Cornet 8' stop from the 2nd manual with the swell box partly closed.
This cycle of "Seven Centuries of Organ Music" is intended to introduce the widest possible range of organ music of various historical styles and national schools of organ composition - from the Estampie of 14th century to the compositions from 21st century to organ music fans of Lithuania.
Together with this daily blog it is a part of my ongoing efforts to promote the art of the organ in Lithuania which may help to revive the organ culture in my country for future generations.
Are you worried about the future of the organ in your country? How about starting something like that in the area where you live? Don't wait for someone to pick you. As Seth Godin says, "Pick yourself."
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my video Organ Practice Guide.