"Played a piece from the beginning until the end without stopping for the first time"
By Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (get free updates of new posts here)
Last Saturday our organ studio "Unda Maris" at Vilnius University played a joint concert at St John's church.
One of the pieces on the program was J. Pachelbel's Chaccone in F Minor which was played by Mindaugas Dulkys, a chemistry student at the university.
Mindaugas hopes to discover some new medicine which would cure some incurable illnesses in the future using his chemistry skills.
For a long time he struggled to play this piece without stopping in public although when he practiced on his own it was fine.
Last night he wrote a few words about his feelings during this concert which you may find inspiring:
"This year for the first time in my life I've been playing a large-scale work which was written in the key with 4 accidentals. When I first started learning it, I felt scared because some variations are more difficult than others I was afraid I will not be able to master them. But during our concert I played the whole piece from the beginning until the end and I'm very happy about it and actually quite proud, although some mistakes were still audible.
I'm very grateful to the leaders of our studio for showing me the right way in learning the piece, for their patience and encouragement which was so necessary during these critical moments. Thanks!"
Vidas and I can only say we're extremely proud of Mindaugas' progress and hope he will not stop here.
When was the first time when you played a difficult piece in public without stopping?
Last Friday our student from Vilnius University organ studio "Unda Maris", Arnoldas Leleika substituted me in the diploma ceremonies at the Vilnius University St. John's church. He had to play the opening march, student's anthem "Gaudeamus igitur" and the postlude at the end.
In the evening I asked him to answer briefly these 3 questions:
1. Why did you enjoy playing today?
2. What was the most challenging thing for you?
3. What would you like to learn in the future?
His answer is too inspiring of not to share (I'm translating from Lithuanian):
"It was the most memorable day in my musical life because I wielded myself, without any help, the largest mechanical organ in Lithuania. It's extremely exciting to discover for yourself the beauty of the stops and to hear the majestic organ sounds which could be enjoyed not only by myself but also by hundreds of people. This was one of the most important days in their lives - the graduation day."
"The most difficult thing for me was not to lose the place in musical text because I also needed to play pedals together with the keyboards and keep tracking the timing of when to stop playing. It seems like multitasking is possible after all!"
"In the future I would like to perfect my pedal playing - what kind of an organist would I be who can't play the pedals? Also after learning a certain program I would like to participate in the organist competition which would give me some new experiences for my playing technique. As they say, there isn't really boundaries for perfection and while seeking it a person discovers an inner joy..."
If you want, you can enjoy Arnoldas' playing in this video where he plays the fragment of Marche Pontificale by Charles Gounod (thanks to Mindaugas for doing the recording).
Let's congratulate Arnoldas and wish him a lot of creativity, persistence and bravery!
12 things we learned in Salakas
By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
Last Sunday, October 9, Vilnius University organ studio "Unda Maris" went to Salakas (about 145 km north east of Vilnius) for a concert in the impressive neo-gothic church (2 manual organ by Bruno Goebel from 1914).
Here are some things we learned:
1. It's pointless to worry about the swell pedal when your pedal technique needs brushing up.
2. Laugh while you can when the combination system is stuck.
3. 16' in the manual isn't a good idea for accompanying women's voices.
4. Pentatonic mode can still scare people.
5. Pneumatic action slows everything down, if you let it.
6. Pedal Posaune is the best stop.
7. One should learn some basic chords and their inversions.
8. We want to slow down too much in cadences.
9. If I could learn to read music in a week, I'd do it.
10. How hard is it to keep a steady pulse?
11. Hanon exercises can be helpful.
12. Never try to correct you mistakes when playing organ in public.
BONUS: Rain and more rain the whole day will not ruin your experience. We had an awesome time.
Every 10 concerts you get a little break-through as you learn more and more about yourself, your music, and your instrument.
I hope yours is coming up soon.
The opening of Unda Maris season 6
By Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (get free updates of new posts here)
Yesterday Vilnius University organ studio "Unda Maris" met for the first time this year. It's the start of the 6th season.
We had 8 new members joining in - 5 of them were students and 2 - alumni, and one - member of the staff of the university.
The range of majors was diverse - from filology to history, from law students to future mathematicians, from chemistry department to medics.
In the beginning we introduced ourselves, then Vidas gave a brief intro about this organ. Then everyone got to play the largest pipe organ in Lithuania with their hands and feet.
Some of the students could read music, some of them couldn't. But all of them were excited.
Those who haven't played the instrument before, improvised, those who knew some piano pieces, tried to play their versions on the organ.
I explained to everyone when do we use toes in pedal playing and when - the heels.
We heard some very interesting improvisations, Vidas remarked he will steal some of their ideas in his upcoming improvisations..
At the end I took a group picture. That's why you don't see me in the above photo.
Vidas gave everyone his usual assignement - to choose 4 pitches and improvise something interesting for 10 minutes usuing any octave, any texture, any rhythm, any stop combination in the hands and pedals.
Now that Vidas and I know the abilities of our new members we will discuss some new repertoire and exercise possibilities for them next week.
It's going to be an exciting year!
This Saturday the members of my Unda Maris organ studio from Vilnius University will play a concert "Ave Maris Stella" at Vilnius University St. John's church. I founded Unda Maris 5 years ago. The pinnacle of the program will consist of the works of Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566). This year we celebrate 450th anniversary from the death of this important Spanish Renaissance composer and blind organist.
Recently I have asked some of the members of the studio to share a few ideas what they find challenging on the organ and what they would like to learn in the future.
Mindaugas, the student from the Chemistry department who is dreaming on discovering the 147th element of the periodic table told me that he is working on the Caballero variations by Cabezon. The most challenging thing for him is to effectively articulate and adjust to the large acoustics of the church as well as when middle parts migrate from one hand to another.
"I like this piece because there isn't any single, continuous mood. In the entire cycle you can feel contrasts of moods but the piece remains unified nonetheless. I'd like to learn Bach's "In dir ist Freude", BWV 615." - shared the organ enthusiast.
Our endocrinologist Edita started playing organ only a few months ago and currently is working on one of Cabezon's "Ave Maris Stella" versets and finds it really challenging to play not entirely legato on the organ and to focus.
"I'm so glad to be able to touch the organ. I like the melodic nature of the piece. During my practice I learned that you can play beautiful melodies on this instrument. I wish to improve myself step by step and to learn a new melodic composition." - shared the medic.
Ruta, Lithuania's foremost expert on allergies and immunology also plays one of the "Ave Maris Stella" versets and says that the organ isn't particularly challenging to her at this stage. She loves the beauty of this instrument and would like to learn something to play with pedals within the next 3-6 months.
Gina from Vilnius University administration will play two of the duos by Cabezon and finds reaching fast tempo as well playing rhythmically particularly hard. She believes her piece is especially beautiful even though it looks simple. In the near future she would like to surpass the two-part texture and start playing trios as well.
Vytautas, a docent from the Physics department and an expert on radio electronics says that the most difficult challenges for him in his piece are several places with inconvenient fingering, focusing on articulation throughout the performance and quickly adapting from piano to the organ.
"I will play Cabezon's Gallard. It has quite a solemn character. I haven't played anything solemn like this either on piano nor on the organ before. That's why I love it so much. In the future I would like to finish learning Bach's D minor Toccata and Fugue, BWV 656 but I doubt that in a few months I will succeed in completing it because this requires an organ with a pedalboard." - shared the physicist.
Ausra's Harmony Exercise:
Chord Progression in F Major: I-vi-IV-ii-ii6-I64-V-V7-I
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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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