This is the ending of the episode 377 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast where I talk with John Higgins, the organist of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Morewell, Australia. If you haven't seen the beginning, check it out here. Here is the 2nd part too.
John: Thomas Heywood is the most famous Australian professional concert organist touring around the world. The two DVD’s that he has made, he spoke about the pieces before he played them, and as a listener I found that was very engaging and added more contest and I thought I would take a risk and have those introductions before the pieces and I hope that makes it more meaningful for the listeners.
Vidas: You’re exactly right. A simple DVD where an organist just plays the pieces through like in a recital setting, would be fine, but there is not human-to-human connection without introductions. Of course you could write the text in the linear notes, but seeing you talk about them, those pieces, and your experiences and what you suggest listeners listen to when you play, right, sometimes. It gives an enormous, I believe like warm feeling, human connection, basically. And I remember when you played here in Vilnius, you also introduced those pieces in a similar manner. I translated them, right? And it was really nice. People connected to you, and actually you went downstairs to take your bow, right? And one person from our studio, Unda Maris Studio, gave you a box of sweets, right? And a few days ago when we received you package of DVD’s, you wanted us to give one copy of the DVD to that organ student, right? His name is Marek by the way, and he travels through several European countries after his favorite organists. He tries not to miss any organ recitals. Not only in Vilnius but any other cities in Lithuania too. But also he travels to Latvia, to Poland and sometimes even to Germany. So Marek will be delighted to get your DVD. Also I’ll give one copy at your request to Paulius Grigonis, who is the organist of St. Joseph Parish here in Vilnius. He is my best friend and colleague and he will be appreciating it very much. By the way, Paulius is also participating in our Secrets of Organ Playing contest. So John, I know you have Steemit account, and are planning to do this, so wonderful will be for our little community competing from around the world too. And then the next copy is already on it’s way to England to Mindaugas, our former Unda Maris member, who left us because he’s now working in England, and he also has experience in organ playing and he appreciated you play very much in Vilnius. So he will be enjoying this too much, your playing very much. So thank you so much John, for your generosity, for sharing those ideas about you recording this DVD and wish that you do the second version, a second volume of your DVD in the not to distant future.
J: Yes. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed my trip to Vilnius and meeting some of your other students. The profound impact on my life, and to friendships were formed there that were exciting and it’s a real privilege for me to share the DVD with you and the other students.
V: Wonderful. What would be your last advice for organists who would like to record a DVD?
J: I think it’s the most important thing is to understand why you want to do it. And I think I shared with you once before that I was fascinated that I found this seminar on Youtube from a famous opera singer. And they said that the turning point of their career was when somebody said to them, that you need to be convinced, that somebody should pay 50 dollars to come and listen to you sing. And at first this opera singer was very apprehensive and full of self-doubt and thought, "I don’t know why people would pay that much money to come and see me." And they went through quite a journey to understand, why were they going to sing. I think it would be great for any other organist to think about, why do you want to play and why do you want to record the DVD? Once you understand what those key goals and aims are, and that will drive you through the whole process.
J: If you’re not sure about it or if you’re doubting then you give up cause it takes you so far out of your comfort zone.
V: Well exactly. You have to answer this deep why question. The deep reason behind you are actually doing this project. And if you’re not sure then in a deep struggle when the darkest hours will hit you, obviously you will give up probably. So I’m so glad that you persevered and you continued to play, even though it took many hours to record, but it’s a first DVD, your first achievement. The second I guess will be a little bit easier, right?
J: Yes, and I think if you have that faith in why you’re doing it and that you’re doing it the right ways, that there’s so many possibilities that come out of this exercise, that regardless if you don’t—even if you make a financial loss, the benefits to you as a person, what you learn and the new skills you develop, opportunities that might open through other faces, or to do further recordings. I’m so humbled because it’s only been, it’s over four weeks since I released the DVD, and I’ve already sold nearly 50 copies, and I’ve given nearly 30 copies away in gifts and presents, and they were for people who really wanted them. It wasn’t just giving it to them as a token to people who have been very interested in my musical journey. My initial run’s a hundred copies, and only twenty left...
J: full weight. I find that’s very humbling.
V: And it’s also very good promotional material, right? Because when you apply, for example, to some organ recital series, or organ festival in Australia or abroad, it’s best to send them some samples of your work. It doesn’t have to be a physical DVD or a CD these days, right? It can be a link to your Youtube channel, for example, where you would give them a sample of your work or the best pieces that you have recorded. And since you have released entire hour of music, you can pick and choose or put all of them in on Youtube, or just part of them, as an example of your work that is, really, I think, number one reason why people should record themselves. Not necessarily to have this physical DVD but to have an archive of their work.
J: Yes. And that’s one of my next steps I need to complete fairly quickly, is having, creating my own Youtube channel and website. That’s something that I’ll be working on this year.
V: Mmm-hmm. Great! And John, if people are interested in getting to know you a little more, and even getting your DVD’s, where and what’s the best way to reach you?
J: The best way would be by email, and I’m sure that you’ll be putting a link in the podcast to my email, and it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
J: I also have a Facebook page under John Higgins. I don’t have an active presence on there so email is probably the most effective.
V: Mmm-hmm. So yes, as you mention, your Youtube channel and website could be probably your next, even before you record second volume, probably. It’s good to have a place where you could have your presence online. Not necessarily only email, but people would look at your photos, right? At your resumé, at your recitals schedule, or maybe even your blog. You could start writing about your day, about your, documenting your day. And it doesn’t have to be just organ, right? Because organ is just a part of your activities. Wonderful! Thank you so much, John. It was delightful to talk to you, and I hope people got the message that you were trying to transmit, that first of all, it’s worth doing—recording your own DVD. But before you do it, you have to answer the question—why!
V: Mmm-hmm. Okay, and I’m delighted to talk to you and I’m sitting now in my church and I’m ready to go and practice for my next recital which is coming up in about, less than two weeks. And I hope you will practice also something too.
J: Yes. Yes, I’m busy practicing this week, ready for the church service on Sunday, and I’ll also been picking out the new records file that I’ll lend you. And if anyone would like a DVD, it would be my pleasure to send it to them.
V: Excellent! So just email John and he will write to you very gladly.
J: Thank you so much, Vidas.
V: Have a wonderful 2019, creative, healthy for your entire family, and talk to you next time.
J: Thank you so much. Have a good day!
V: Alright, guys. This was Vidas.
J: This was John.
V: And remember, when you practice…
J: 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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