Would you like to learn Poco Allegro in Eb Major from L'Organiste by Cesar Franck?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Jan Pennell for her meticulous transcription from the slow motion video.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering written in which will save you many hours of work. Basic Level. 2 pages.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
Here's is what Ausra and I would have played at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris if not for the unfortunate fire
My friend James Flores asked me this question:
"Were you going to do improvisations at Notre Dame, Paris, before the church caught fire? Or was that a duet recital with Ausra? I would love to know what you were planning to play."
I think it would be a good idea to write a separate post about it.
Everyone knows that the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire and now this building needs restoration. The two organs inside of it apparently didn't burned down but I'm sure major or minor reparations will be necessary because of smoke and water that they suffered in the process.
Notre Dame has a long-standing tradition of Saturday night organ recitals where the best organists from around the world come to play a 40 minute recital. The line is quite long because there are so many requests. After you send your CD recording, 3 cathedral organists evaluate it and decide if you have what it takes to play the magnificent Grand Organ at Notre Dame.
Ausra and I passed this test but we had to wait for several years to be invited. Originally I had to play this summer (August 31, 2019) and Ausra - next summer (July 11, 2020).
The rules of performance is that they don't allow improvisations, don't allow organ duets. So we had to propose 2 separate programs each for them to choose and indicate our favorite.
My choices were:
Program 2: (Favorite) ("Amber Soundscapes: Organ Music from Lithuania")
Ausra's choices were:
Program 2 (Favorite):
They have selected my 2nd program choice (favorite) with Lithuanian music and for Ausra - 1st program with with music of J.S. Bach, Alain and Franck.
I'd like to share with you my composition "Veni Creator", Op. 3 which I would have played at Notre Dame in Paris this August (I played this piece at Co-Cathedral of St John in Valletta, Malta last May):
Ausra let me share her video of Andante in D Major by Felix Mendelssohn, one of her favorite pieces that she has ever played on the organ at Vilnius St. John's church in Vilnius (in general Mendelssohn's music works really great there):
Because of fire all future recitals at Notre Dame had to be postponed and I think they have put their recitalists on waiting list when the great organ will be operational again.
Yesterday and today I've been in contact with a producer of the event in our church who organizes an event in 3 weeks with eurythmy and organ music. Eurythmy is a form of movement art, used in Waldorf education system. Here's a video I found online where eurythmy is adapted to Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique for piano:
This organ music was specifically selected for this event. They had their own organist from Poland who suddenly became ill and they are now looking for a substitute organist. I told her about my friend @neugasimov who is a great pianist and improviser and occasionally plays organ too. Their organist had to play pieces by contemporary composers - Gubaidulina, Schnitke, Part and one chorale prelude of J.S. Bach.
@neugasimov looked at the scores and said that since the event is in 3 weeks, the music had to be improvised or not played at all. It is very complex and there is little chance someone will prepare it on such short notice. Therefore, he had to decline.
Then I, thinking about saving the event, suggested that I could improvise all organ music and the dancers could simply do their part. I told this lady about improvisation event with Vilnius University Kinetic Theater Troupe where we improvised a biblical story about creation of the world:
As I understand even though she liked this video, they are stuck with the specific musical selections that their group of dancers worked on for 5 years. Maybe she will find someone from abroad who would be willing to play them.
This is one of the most important reasons I like improvisation so much - you can adapt to any scenario, to any situation, to any emergency. But with eurythmy, you are stuck with specific movements derived from specific music.
SOPP476: Playing in churches with very resonant acoustics which turned the music into a mere muddle of sound
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 476, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by James. And he writes:
Forgive me emailing you again so soon, but I have recently been to two recitals by world—famous organists that were very disappointing. Reason? Playing in churches with very resonant acoustics which turned the music into a mere muddle of sound.
I played one of those organs today (see attached) similar acoustics and layout to St John's Vilnius (a loud final chord took 6 seconds to be inaudible), with an attached console in the west gallery.
Playing for my own enjoyment, I played at my normal speed and it sounded fine—the resonance wasn't so apparent in the gallery. But I know in the body of the church it would have sounded a mess.
Are there any simple rules for judging speed, legato etc in these circumstances?
Maybe this will be of interest to others.
PS am still working on "Memento" - a challenge, but the miracle WILL happen!
V: By the way, created a piece for the organ based on Gregorian Chant called ‘Memento Nostri Domine’. And dedicated to James—James Spanner.
A: Yeah, he’s working now on it.
V: Yes. He’s trying to master it.
A: Very nice.
V: So, his question is about playing in reverberant acoustics. Hard to deal with it.
A: Yeah. That’s a tricky question. And probably there is no one right answer. Because even when you have such acoustics in one church, and they do something about it, it might not work as well in another church. Because as James also noticed, that in different spots of the church, it may sound very different.
V: My rule of thumb is to play in such a way that I would always listen to the echo in the church—not how it sounds next to the organist but deep inside of the building, as if I would be a listener. And then naturally I would slow down probably, articulate more, when I have to breathe, or when playing earlier music with more detached articulation. But this detachment also has some limits. You cannot play too staccato, still, it would be comical or humoristic. So I don’t suppose it’s a good idea to shorten the notes by more than a half of it’s value. But in general, yes. Imagine yourself as a listener and think about how they feel and listen and hear.
A: And I think it all comes with an experience, because I may have told already this story. But there is a town in Northern Part of Lithuania called Biržai and it has quite a large three manual instrument and it pneumatical—pneumatical action. And I remember myself playing there many years back when I was a student at the Academy of Music, Lithuanian Academia of Music. And it was really hard for me to manage that acoustics and to play that organ because it seems like the sound came late, and instead of just relaxing and letting it go, I started to force that instrument. And the more I forced it the worse it got. And at that time I had no idea what I have to do. Of course we played the fairly difficult repertoire. Think we did some like Reger’s works and…
A: Franck’s works, and it was not a piece of cake because we didn’t have enough time to rehearse before and our teacher was sort of registering whose pieces during our recital.
A: Impromptu, yes. It was funny. But I had a really, really not a good feeling after it. And then we came back to that same organ many years later and I had no problems at all playing it. Because in those many years I had much of experience in various countries and various instruments with various programs and various situations.
A: And I don’t know what I did so much different but I guess I just had a better agreement with an instrument. That whatever you do, you don’t have to force it. Because if you will force it, it will become only worse. So I guess getting too much involved when you’re playing in the music, it’s sometimes not good when you are playing organ. Sometimes I envy piano performance that can to go into the music very deeply emotionally, get so much involved. You don’t do that with organ because if you will do that you will not be able to control everything. Here you need to play but at the same time to listen [to] yourself from the side, like a different person, like part of yourself is sitting at the organ bench and performing and another part of yourself is being downstairs and listening to what is happening.
V: Mmm-hmm. So true. I would just add that in such cases it’s best to let go, to let go control, because sometimes we want to be in charge of the instrument, of the music, of registration, and sometimes it’s good to immerse yourself in the flow and just keep going while enjoying it, not forcing it as Ausra says.
A: Well, and remember when last year we went to St. Paul's Cathedral to London to perform—I was really worrying about that acoustic because I knew that it’s twelve seconds long. We have never played an instrument with such a large acoustic. But strangely enough, that when I got to that organ bench, I could not feel that acoustics at all. It didn’t seem so long.
V: Part of that problem is selecting the repertoire thoughtfully. If we had played some really advanced polyphonic works, then it might have been a problem but we stayed out of that period, not by accident, but on purpose, because this was the music that was not created for such environment. And therefore we played more the romantic sounding music than classical music. And even if Baroque music from the Baroque period, we played arrangements from concertos. Which are polyphonic enough but more are moving in layers, not in separate voices, but more like in layers in three instruments at once. Like three oboes, right?
A: So if you have to play in a large acoustic don’t choose the Preludes and Fugue by J.S. Bach. Choose his trio sonata and you will be just fine.
A: Because in trio sonata you just three voices.
V: Oh, I didn’t mean trio sonatas.
A: (Laughs). Okay, okay. I’m just teasing you.
V: Ah, you are so, so, what’s the word? Sneaky!
A: I am. But of course if you will choose to play a fugue, let’s say Baroque fugue in a large acoustics and you will play it all legato, then of course you will get just a big mess. Especially if you will play it in a very fast tempo. Although if you won’t articulate you will get mess in anyway.
V: Right. Articulation does make a difference.
V: At St. Paul's Cathedral I played some improvisation as well during the rehearsal. And when you improvise, you try to adjust to the environment and instrument and seek out other colors of the organ and show them in a really appropriate way. Therefore, what did you think? Did I play that improvisation in a forced way? Something unnatural or was it convincing enough?
A: No, I think it was convincing enough. You are very good at improvising, as we well know.
V: Please praise me more.
A: Well, we shall see how your improvisation recital in the cathedral on Thursday will be.
V: You mean tomorrow?
A: Yes. I mean tomorrow.
V: Yes, I will be playing twenty-five minute long improvisation recital. It’s a short recital—lunchtime recital, but based on the biblical story about Jesus transfiguration. Okay. So, bottom line, guys is to experience as many instruments as you possibly can. As many different acoustical environments as you can. And then adjusting to the big acoustics will be a challenge, but not a big one.
A: And as James wrote that he listened to famous organists, yes, renowned organists. I can also tell from my experience from listening to other performers—not always a big name, brings a great performance. Because you have various situations like the person might be just sick, or not feel well, or don’t have that style approach of historical performance, and all those details that might not work.
V: Well, exactly. Maybe that organist is famous for some other area of repertoire.
V: And when put into another acoustical environment it could sound really weak.
A: Well and I have heard some of the performance that I know a renowned organist and sometimes they played really as a gods and sometimes they played really, really bad. So…
V: Maybe they’re not gods after all.
A: Yes, I guess so.
V: Okay guys. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
Thank you everyone for participating! You all made us very happy with your entries. We have selected the following winners.
Have you ever wanted to start to practice on the organ but found yourself sidetracked after a few days? Apparently your inner motivation wasn't enough.
I know how you feel. I also was stuck many times. What helped me was to find some external motivation as well.
In order for you to advance your organ playing skills and help you motivate to practice, my wife Ausra - @laputis and I invite you to join in a contest to submit your organ music and win some Steem.
Are you an experienced organist? You can participate easily. Are you a beginner? No problem. This contest is open to every organ music loving Steemian.
Here are the rules
Would you like to learn Allegretto in Eb Major from L'Organiste by Cesar Franck?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Jeremy Owens for his meticulous transcription from the slow motion video.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering written in which will save you many hours of work. Basic Level. 1 page.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
SOPP477: One of my dreams for organ playing is reaching higher and lower for pedals with confidence that I hit the right pedal
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 477 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Suzy. And she writes:
One of my dreams for organ playing is reaching higher and lower for pedals with confidence that I hit the right pedal. What is holding me back is:
1. Performance Anxiety which fluctuates. I have rituals for getting into a good mindset. I have a breath deeply, and center the mind so it is not fighting itself eg right and left centring. I
imagine a dial in the middle of my forward that I have to press the word ‘Center’ switch. I must not be too analytical but go with the flow, and have muscle memory.
2. Sometimes the way I practice. I need to not just play through; I need to focus exclusively on the bars that need attention. Timing this even for ten minutes a time rather than playing through without corrective practice. I have to consciously prevent myself just playing through which is not practice.
3. Having confidence in my ability. Also setting targets. Realistic ones. Don’t keep starting new pieces without finishing perfecting them. Eg learn two new pieces per month. So I need to set targets. Also playing hymns at the right tempo.
V: So Suzy needs to perfect her pedal playing probably, in higher and lower levels, as she writes, but has performance anxiety and sometimes practices inefficiently, and probably lacks confidence in her skills.
A: Well, I guess these problems are concerning many organists. I think it is quite common concerns, and quite common problems. Well, when you’re not managing pedal right, I think you just have to spend more time playing it, while it becomes as natural that you will stop thinking about it.
V: When you played the organ for the first time, did pedal board seem natural to you?
A: No, it seemed very unnatural at the beginning. But now I don’t think when I play about it. It’s like my third hand.
V: That’s interesting observation. In many cases, organ compositions are created in a way that pedal line serves like a third hand, yes. That’s why we have three staves most of the time.
A: Sure. Now what about rituals? Do you suggest for people to have rituals before performance, or not?
V: Um, rituals to me, associate with people who want control, right? I have to clarify this. If you follow some rituals, you feel calmer, and your mind works clearer, and you feel more present and better prepared to cope with the problems that are arising in the moment. But what if you miss your ritual for some reason, or are unable to do it before performance? What if you just have to just jump in and play, if somebody asks you, right?
A: Yes, that’s what I thought about it, too. But it’s sort of, maybe on one side it’s good to have some rituals, but on the other hand, you never know if you will be able to keep to them, and if you won’t, it might just scare you away so much that you won’t be able to play at all.
V: Mm hm.
A: You might panic.
V: I met an organist once who swore she would never play in public again after a public performance.
A: And I know people have all these, strange things. I heard that one, I think, Latvian organist, never eats like green cucumbers, fresh cucumbers before, on the day of recital, because his stomach does not digest it well, and all these funny things.
V: What about Estonians?
A: I don’t know about Estonians.
V: If Latvians don’t eat cucumbers, maybe Estonians… don’t eat tomatoes.
V: And Lithuanians don’t eat potatoes.
A: Ha ha. If Lithuanians won’t eat potatoes on the day of recital, they might die.
A: It’s our second bread. Well, I’m just joking. But in any way, I had some rituals myself, when I was still in high school. I wouldn’t eat the day before my performance, and do other crazy things. But then I would get really sick after performing because I would have, like, migraine, and all that other stuff. And when we went to study to the United States, I saw that I cannot have any rituals whatsoever. Because if you will have to let’s say to perform after, you know, at 8 pm, and you have classes going all day long and other things you have to do at the university, like teaching assistantship, and all that other stuff, so, what, when, just keep hungry all day long, and then you just faint near the organ bench at 8 pm? And sort of, this busy schedule changed all my habits and I stopped having rituals. I guess the most important thing is that, a minute before you, when you sit on the organ bench, how well you might concentrate and focus during that one minute.
V: Ausra, don’t you think it’s sort of similar to the way people practice martial arts, and they do all kinds of rituals in the dojo as they call it, in the classroom setting. They bow, they breathe, they wear certain clothes, and belts of various colors. But what happens when you go outside of the dojo, and somebody attacks you in the dark alley, right? You cannot say to the attacker, “Oh, wait a second - I will do my 2 minute breathing meditation now, then I will change the uniform, and then maybe do a warm-up.” And so, you will get beaten in the moment. Or maybe you will surprise your attacker this way and he will say, “Oh, it’s not worth dealing with this crazy person,” and maybe he will walk away. It’s a good tactic maybe. To start singing, for example, when you are being attacked. Nobody expects you to sing, right? And this might end the fight, actually.
A: I think all these talks are just speculation. Because you never know how you will react in real life. It’s easy for you to talk about it while you’re sitting in your chair at home, comfortably, and nobody threatens you.
V: I’m not about that. I’m talking about if somebody behaved unexpectedly, had the guts to do this in a real situation. So, the same is with organ performance, I think. When the time comes for you to play, it’s a real challenge. It throws you off balance sometimes, and you have to react without preparation right away.
A: Sure. Because you never know what will happen during your performance. And how well you feel on that day, and all other things. That’s what is the difference between amateur and professional. A professional has to play in any circumstances, in any situation.
V: Mm hm.
V: All right, guys. We hope this was useful to you. Keep exploring your boundaries, what you can do during public performance, and see how your body and mind reacts. You might be surprised. And send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Yesterday I played this recital at Vilnius Cathedral which I livestreamed to Facebook, later uploaded the video to YouTube and today I'm sharing it here. It was pouring rain like from the bucket and my recital should have been called "Noah's Flood" instead of "Transfiguration of Christ". Eight of my colleagues and students organists listened to my playing and many more on livestream. Most of my colleagues haven't heard me play in years because they wouldn't attend my recitals for some reason. Now this gave me some street credit, I think.
Let me know your thoughts.
In about 30 minutes I will start my improvisation recital on the Biblical theme of Transfiguration of Christ at Vilnius Cathedral. Last night I had a rehearsal and this is what happened:
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Would you like to say "Thank You" to us?
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.