Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 228 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today we’d like to discuss the concert of Vilnius University’s Unda Maris studio that was held at St. John’s Church on May 26. It was the culmination of our year-long season, right Ausra?
V: It’s hard to believe, but it was the ending of the seventh season already.
A: Already, yes. Time flies.
V: Remember the day when we decided to create this studio?
A: Yes, I remember it.
V: We were in our summer cottage that day; and after communication with our boss at the Cultural Center at Vilnius University, we decided to create this studio, and even gave it a name: Unda Maris.
A: Yes. And I was the godmother, actually.
V: You came up with this name?
V: It’s a nice name.
A: Yes, and especially because the organ at St. John’s Church has this beautiful Unda Maris stop.
V: Right. So, the studio is open to all members of the Vilnius University community. Students…
V: ...Faculty, alumni…
A: That’s right.
V: ...Who love organ music.
V: Ausra, do they have to be able to play piano, or not?
A: Well, it’s not necessary, because some just started from scratch; but some are actually quite advanced keyboardists.
V: Mhm. And in this concert, we also saw some quite advanced players, even though they were performing for the first time with our studio. For example, what did you think about the opening piece, Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 553, which was performed by Totile.
A: Well, I thought she did quite well, knowing that it’s her first recital at all with the organ, and that she’s just a freshman in organ.
V: Exactly. And during the concert, I introduced the performers and pieces, and during those intermissions, Ausra helped them to change the stops.
V: And that saved a lot of time, and made it smoother.
A: I know. It was sort of fun for me to watch them, how each of them behaved; because, I mean, you could not see such things in a professional concert!
V: Mhm. People who had more experience playing in public acted more or less naturally, right?
A: I know. It was great fun.
V: But others, who were doing this for the first time, or after some decades of not being on the…
V: Stage--they were very scared!
V: Okay. So, then, the next piece was Léon Böellmann--Prière à Notre-Dame, from the Suite Gothique, which was also played by Totile. It’s a lovely piece, right Ausra?
A: Yes, very nice.
V: But if you don’t have a good grasp of piano technique, it’s too hard to start with Romantic music.
A: Yes, that’s right, that’s true; but it seems that she had quite good piano technique, so it wasn’t a problem for her.
V: Mhm. Before the concert, I told her to imagine that either she prays, herself, or she dreams. It’s sort of like Romantic meditation--in both states, prayer and dreaming are similar, in a way. So while playing, she had to transfer this mood to the listeners, too.
V: I also thought that her articulation with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Major was quite well-performed.
A: Well, I thought that, you know, the…
V: Too much…
A: Subject, yes, of the Fugue sounded almost staccato--it was played almost staccato. And I noticed that before the recital, you told her to do the longer notes, instead of shortening them so much; but she did not do that during the recital!
A: I guess it was too much to expect from a beginner.
V: Yeah. Maybe she can do this with her next piece, to adjust articulation a little bit. And Totile is an alumna of Vilnius University, and she is a translator, I believe, from English.
V: Okay. The next performer was Vytautas, our faculty member in the physics department. And he played 2 pieces: one by Simon Mayr Prelude in d minor. This is an 18th century Austrian composer, I believe.
V: Have you heard him before?
A: Actually, no. This was my first time hearing him.
V: Vytautas brought the music for me himself, and chose this piece--the entire collection. And the next piece, also, was unknown to me. So I felt quite pleased that he has some curiosity to dig up some unfamiliar and rarely-performed organ music.
A: True, and actually, I think from all who performed in this recital, Vytautas is the oldest member of our studio. And so this was his 7th recital already, as an Unda Maris studio member.
A: And he always amazes me, how he’s interested in things; and even after this recital, he told me that next year he would like to learn more about the organ, and how all the things function. So basically, he’s a real physics major!
V: And also he wants to learn music theory.
V: To decipher musical compositions--to understand how they are put together. So, hopefully we can help him next year. Okay. And also, a few years ago, Vytautas brought with him his student--who is now also an alumnus of Vilnius University, graduated from the physics department of engineering: Vadim.
A: And he actually came to the recital, and he told us that he might be joining the studio again next year.
V: Yes. As his graduation work, for a diploma, he constructed a robotic hand, which can grab things, you know.
V: Excellent. So, the next piece or set of pieces was performed by Justas, who is a faculty member at the biochemistry lab. He deals with various...protons, I believe...and investigates them...I don’t even understand what he does.
V: I think he does computer modeling of how they behave, you know.
A: But you understand what he plays!
V: Yeah. The first piece that he played was actually written by me: Offertorium from the Mass for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. This was the piece performed on the string stops on 2 manuals. And actually, I was surprised that he dealt with the texture where there are no barlines very well. And actually, I told him before the recital that he plays this piece better than me!
A: Wow. Well, but you know, I had a problem with him; because since I had to change stops for him, for 2 pieces for your Offertorium and then for Prelude and Fugue in a minor, BWV 559...
A: He was always checking if I did everything right! And it just made me laugh!
V: Well, maybe because he is not used to playing in public. It’s his first year.
A: But he argues with me--he wanted to do pedal with 32’ stop...
A: And you know, I had many doubts about it; and finally, no--he agreed not to use it. But we had quite a fight before the recital!
V: In order to use a 32’ stop in the pedals in a Baroque piece, the pedals should move quite slowly, right?
A: I know, and I just didn’t think it suitable for this kind of prelude and fugue!
V: Like, imagine maybe Chorale Fantasia by Bach--“Komm, heiliger Geist” from the Great 18 Chorales from the Leipzig collection, right? That would be...
A: And my final argument was, “Are you so good at articulating the pedals? Because if not, your pedal will be behind all the time.”
A: The sound will be behind all the time, if you add 32’ stop.
V: Or 32’ stop would work well for Pièce d’Orgue, middle movement.
V: Because of the long note values. But you know, since Justas is just a beginner, he probably likes the 32’ stuff, and its gravity.
A: Haha! Sure.
V: But he doesn’t know what the effect is downstairs.
V: He’ll learn, probably. Excellent. So, let’s continue our discussion in the next conversation. But you see, it’s so much to talk about, right Ausra?
V: And it was a fun concert to observe.
A: Yeah, it was.
V: Thank you guys. Look forward to our next discussion in the next podcast. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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