Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 500, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast.
A: Wow! We made it—500! Can you believe it?
V: Yeah, we can stop now.
A: No! Now we have to reach 1000.
V: Do you believe we can reach it?
A: I don’t know. When we just started it I thought, ‘oh, maybe we will do fifty of them or maybe one-hundred. But we reached 500 so…
V: Our horizon is always moving further away.
A: True. And because of all your wonderful questions.
V: Yes. In this episode today, we wanted to give a little bit of overview of what we’ve been talking about over those few years. Obviously, in our website, you will find all of them and also on our Soundcloud channel as well. But to make a long story short, I started those podcasts as interviews with organ experts and organ builders and organists from around the world, maybe three years ago, I believe. But then, started another podcast called AskVidasAndAusra. Remember, Ausra?
A: Yes, I remember. I think you started your interview podcast earlier than three years ago.
V: Earlier, right?
V: I will just quickly check when was the first episode published on Soundcloud. Yeah very easy to check—number one was four years ago.
A: I told you it was more than three years.
V: With Gene Bedient on historically inspired organ building. And then number two was George Ritchie on playing Bach’s organ music. And number three was Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra on improvisation in the Bach’s style. And number four was Jan Karman about writing organ fugues on the melodies of the Geneval Psalter. Number five was Mary Murrell and Quentin Falkner on Bach’s organ world. So basically those first maybe ten people that were from our early circle with the exception of perhaps of Hans-Ola Ericsson who visited the Vilnius and gave a masters class and played a recital here. And it was really exciting. Before we started, or I started those podcast interviews, it was always a thought in my mind, ‘will I have enough people to talk about from around the world’, because some organists are difficult to reach. You write a message to them and some reply and some don’t. And since we’re now at 500 apparently, we haven’t stopped.
A: Well, but remember that now we talk with each a lot...
A: answering questions.
V: For a while I had two podcasts in parallel of each other—one was Secrets of Organ Playing podcasts with experts and organists and guests, and the other was our talks with Ausra answering your questions. And we basically called it AskVidasandAusra, remember perhaps. But then, for a while, I stopped interviewing people from other countries and only we talked…
A: With each other.
V: with each other.
A: So why have you stopped them? Was it too hard for you or too time consuming or too stressful?
V: It was not stressful obviously but time consuming, chasing those experts and following them up and looking for good material to talk about, editing, doing research about them and it seemed like it was a lot on my plate to do two podcasts together.
A: But now you have renewed doing it.
V: Yeah. Starting from this summer I think…
V: A few months ago I renewed. And the reason was that because I no longer work at school. I have much more free time and can interview guests much more easily this way.
A: So, what do you remember most out of those four years?
V: Each and every one was really unique, those guests you mean, right?
V: Mmm-hmm. Those guests probably, not all of them on the same level. Sometimes we interviewed our students, sometimes colleagues, sometimes really experts which are hard to reach. Like for example, at number forty-three, yeah, Guy Bovet on the future of organ art. We talked on the phone with him because he couldn’t connect his video camera. And it still worked, you know, it was wonderful. But I was really afraid to talk with such a master, right? And then sometimes people who knew previously, like Sarah Schott from our Grace Lutheran church. She talked about working with bell choirs and Alain Truche who was our colleague at Lincoln, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is living now in Asia. And there were many other people who I really enjoyed talking to. Some people visited Vilnius with recitals like Charles Spanner, for example, and he shared his own experience with trying out different organs. I remember four years ago, was exactly the time when the last international organist competition of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis happened in Vilnius, so I interviewed two jury members - Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin from Paris, and also Michael Bauer from University of Kansas. We were sitting in the hotel lobby. It was really interesting to talk to them but also at the same time to hear the background noises of the kitchen. There were other guests and other very interesting organists, like Peter Sykes and Gavin Black, and Nico Declerck who has organ radio project now called Organ Roxx. And we talked with James D. Hicks who visited Vilnius with his Nordic Journey project. He actually even climbed the bell tower of St. John’s church. It was really a fabulous experience. I even interviewed one organist who is also a pianist on a cruise ship. So it was really interesting to hear his different perspective. Carson Cooman obviously organists in residence from the Harvard University—very prolific composer of new organ music. Lydia Vroegindeveij and Erin Scheessele about OrgelKids, you know this little project that you can educate young people how the organ is constructed by building the organ in front of them and deconstructing and reconstructing them. They have organ positiv design for that too.
A: So this is amazing how many people you have interviewed…
A: and what sorts of variety you find on your podcasts.
V: Jean-Paul Imbert for example on lessons from the great masters. We just recently met him in Vilnius…
A: True. This summer.
V: but because of this podcast he invited us to perform at...
A: Alpe d'Huez.
V: Exactly. In the French Alps. You know, all kinds of doors started opening to us. Tore Bjorn-Larsen for example was an example on podcast number seventy-nine. And he is a composer in Denmark in Svendborg. And afterwards he also invited us to play in his church—St. Nicolai church, which we played just a few...
A: Last summer yes.
A: This summer.
V: A few months ago.
A: Wasn’t a few months. It was July 31st and now it’s September, so it’s not a few months.
V: One and a half months.
V: Excellent! Interesting, for example, I interviewed sometimes people who were not organists, actually, but from different professions. But they had some sort of connection with the organ world, through restoration, for example. This was with Robin Gullbrandsson who visited Casparini organ in Vilnius here and we talked about that. And then what, two years ago, we started this AskVidasandAusra podcast. And the first episode was about how to keep a steady tempo when you play the organ. Remember Ausra, why we started talking about that? About talking with each other, in addition to interviewing the guests?
A: I think because this is one of the major problems that many organists encounter.
V: Mmm-hmm. We wanted to help you grow and to answer your questions on the podcast. Yeah. So those episodes were also numerous, and we sometimes kept going in parallel with Secrets of Organ Playing interviews. But then as I said earlier, I found it too difficult to continue and only started talking with Ausra. But now we merged two podcasts into one and only have Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast, and today, is episode number 500.
V: Yes. We hope you guys find value out of our conversations and continue asking questions, giving feedback, because I recently started doing those interviews with guests, so I hope you will find those interviews also useful. Please let us know and please let our guests know and feel appreciated because it’s really important for them to know if their interview has resonated or not with the audience from around the world, from eighty-nine countries. It’s amazing.
A: Do you know what I remember the most?
V: No, Ausra.
A: One organist by name of Ugochukwu.
A: There was a time when he just kept sending us a questions and we kept answering them. But then he was disappointed because he could not get answers right away. And he stopped actually, I think, following us.
A: But it’s so funny because it’s such a remarkable name, Ugochukwu. And I wasn’t sure if I’m pronouncing it right.
V: He’s African, I think.
A: So after even when he stopped asking us questions I would still remember his name. And each time when Vidas would tell me that this question was sent by somebody, I would, in my mind I would keep telling myself, by Ugochukwu.
V: (Laughs). And sometimes we really had funny situations while talking with Ausra. A recording beginning of podcasts were especially funny sometimes, and tricky, when I announce this is the opening episode of number, let’s say, three hundred or two hundred and something, and then I have to announce the question. And sometimes by reading this question I get stuck and you have to do it again and again and again. I remember one episode we started laughing hysterically, right Ausra?
A: Yes. I guess we were just so tired, and, yeah.
V: I even saved this podcast which was as a hysterical laugh, so maybe when the time comes, we can laugh together again.
A: Let’s hope so.
V: Yeah. Listening together.
A: And of course there were questions like sent by Michael, where he asked a lot of things and suggested various topics for our podcast. And we haven’t answered him yet, but maybe someday we will come back to that question and…
A: we’ll explore more.
V: It was like a list of ten or fifteen questions like…
V: like a true master class, one week long.
A: That’s right.
V: It’s not for ten minute conversation obviously. So thank you guys. Please continue sending us your questions. We love helping you grow. And it’s really amazing to be on this journey and we hope to reach 1000.
A: Let’s do it.
V: This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: 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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