Last Saturday my colleague from National M.K. Ciurlionis School of Art Jurgita Kazakeviciute, her student Lukrecija Stonkute, my student Egle Rudokaite and I went on an one-day concert trip to Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city.
Lukrecija and Egle played a joint recital at the Jesuits church on a Swiss made mid-size two-manual organ. This concert was part of the award given to them for being prizewinners of Young Organist's Competition last May in Kaunas.
On the program were Praeludium in E Minor (large) by N. Bruhns, Sonatas in C minor and C major by G. Valerj, "Susanne un jour" by A. Gabrieli, Pastorale by B. Pasquini, Melodie by S. Rousseau, Romanze by J.Rheinberger, and my Veni Creator Spiritus.
Here's what we learned (in no particular order):
1. Talking in front of the audience without preparation leaves many opportunities to mess up. Speak slowly so that you will have time to think. Even then, there are no guarantees.
2. Leaving an intelligent student to do registration on her own is a good idea.
3. If everyone's is trying to get home after the recital at the same evening, eating at drive-in is better than sitting at the restaurant for an hour.
4. Writing in registration with numbers rather than stop name and pitch level abbreviations might supposedly be easier for an assistant but says nothing about which stops to draw. On an unfamiliar organ this might be confusing.
5. I have a huge respect for women organists who have families but still manage to play concerts regularly.
6. Having said that, if you don't plan for regular new challenges for yourself, your concert life will soon be stagnant. Don't underestimate the power of the disease of being busy.
7. If you don't create some exciting goals for yourself, someone else will. It's true for people who are 19, 39, or 79.
8. Your ears should be out in the nave when you play.
9. The staccato should not be shorter than half of the note value.
10. Repeated notes most often are to be shortened in half.
11. If the mixture is too harsh, don't use it. Same goes for reeds who are out of tune.
12. If the piece ends abruptly, the registration should justify this as well.
13. Don't rely on the combination system of the organ too much. It might get stuck in a most needed moment. Lucky for us, it worked.
Bonus: Show a lot of love when playing a boring organ.
Next week Lukrecija and Egle will be playing at the 6th Jonas Zukas Organ Competition for young organists in Vilnius. Let's wish them all the best!