Ausra and I hope you will enjoy our recital video from Svendborg, Denmark last week. Here's the official description:
Dr. Vidas Pinkevicius and Dr. Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene play Lithuanian music for organ duet on July 31, 2019 in Svendborg International Organ Music Festival at Saint Nicolai Church (Marcussen Organ):
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911) Symphonic Poem "In the Forest" (1901) (17 min), arrangement for organ duet
Juozas Naujalis (1869-1934) Reverie (1922) (4 min), arrangement for organ duet
Kristina Vasiliauskaite (b. 1956) Sounds of the Forest (1988) (8 min) for two organs
K. Vasiliauskaite Four Lithuanian folk songs (2010) (7 min), arrangement for organ duet
1. "Oh, They Are Fast Flying"
2. "Zer Zer A Windmill"
3. "Oh, Rye-Rye You Are Winter Crops"
4. "On the Hill Rye Is Growing"
Bronius Kutavicius (b. 1932) Sonata "Ad Patres" (1983) (12 min) for organ duet
Vidas Pinkevicius (b. 1976) Fantasy on the themes by Ciurlionis, Op. 11a (2013) (5 min), arrangement for organ duet
V. Pinkevicius Veni Creator Spiritus, Op. 3a (2010/2019) (7 min), arrangement for organ duet
Encore: Juozas Gudavicius (1873-1939) "Where the Wood Is Growing" arranged for organ duet
At the end of my organ demonstration at the church the students wanted to listen to different acoustical qualities while walking around the room. In some places you get to hear more high-pitched sounds, in others - low-pitched sounds and in some places - pedal pipes sound the most prominent etc. So I improvised this piece for them. After that my boss at the university came up to me and asked what was this piece? I said I improvised it. Her eyes opened wide in awe. I think I may have earned some extra points with her yesterday...
What do you think?
On Monday I had a meeting at my church with the group of students from the Art Academy and their professor about our upcoming collaborative project called OrganLabs. Since it was student's first visit to the organ balcony, they wanted to find out more about the organ. So I demonstrated all the main families of organ stops plus some additional colors. Even though the video is in Lithuanian, I think you'll get the idea.
Let me know what you think.
Thank you everyone for participating! You all made us very happy with your entries. We have selected the following winners.
Have you ever wanted to start to practice on the organ but found yourself sidetracked after a few days? Apparently your inner motivation wasn't enough.
I know how you feel. I also was stuck many times. What helped me was to find some external motivation as well.
In order for you to advance your organ playing skills and help you motivate to practice, my wife Ausra - @laputis and I invite you to join in a contest to submit your organ music and win some Steem.
Are you an experienced organist? You can participate easily. Are you a beginner? No problem. This contest is open to every organ music loving Steemian.
Here are the rules
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 473, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ariane, who’s our Total Organist student. And I asked her on Basecamp, what is she struggling with, in organ playing. And she writes:
I am trying not to worry about struggling, I just want to make music as good as I can.
V: Ausra, is that a good approach
A: I think it’s a wonderful approach. I think that’s what approach should be because sometimes you worry to much about the details, and we are not thinking about final goal.
V: Right. To me, I think it’s already second nature—practicing and performing and preparing for a goal, certain deadline, like public appearances—that if I encounter a place in my musical piece that gives me frustration, then I just work on it more and more and more in wise manner, as I understand it. And that episode becomes easier with time, and I conquer it. Is that how you do it, Ausra?
A: Yes. I think that’s one of the most natural way[s] to do it.
V: Do you think about struggle when you practicing also, or you also enjoy music and try to play as good as you can?
A: Well, yes and no. Well, I always know what is the hardest thing in [a] particular piece and I work on those things, because just thinking about struggle won’t help you. You need to take some sort of complete action.
A: And then you finally have to struggle.
V: Right. What about pieces that we are playing today, organ duets for Denmark?
A: Well, I think we are quite ready right now.
A: Beginning wasn’t so easy.
V: By the time you guys hear this podcast conversation we might have already played this recital in Svendborg International Organ Festival in Southern Denmark. But I’m sure we will be talking about this recital in great details soon, afterwards. But this morning before we started recording this conversation, we had breakfast and before that, we practiced for a good hour, an hour and fifteen minutes, I would say—our duet program, right? And the day before we visited our friend Paulius, who works as an organist at St. Joseph Parish here in Vilnius, and we played for him several pieces. Did you feel Ausra, some frustration yesterday?
A: Well yes because we played it on the electronic keyboards.
V: Is that all?
A: Well, that was the most frustration for me.
V: For me was stop changes. Because different organ we didn’t have time to setup pistons. We just improvised the stop changes by hand. And sometimes those changes got quite unexpected turns.
A: But I thought that we are in quite a good shape.
V: I would say a few pieces need some slow work on our program, so that’s why we decided not to rush things, not to play in concert tempo, up until Denmark, I would say.
A: True. But I remember when we just started work on this program. I didn’t think we will come to that point that we can make throughout entire program without stopping.
V: You didn’t believe yourself.
A: I didn’t believe myself because my muscles would start hurting even after practicing one piece.
V: Right. And…
A: Because we had such an enormous hot weather in June when we started to learn these new pieces. It was almost impossible to practice because of the heat and humidity.
V: Mmm-hmm. I think we started in May.
A: Late May, actually.
V: Late May.
A: Late May, which was also very hot.
V: Right. So when you first started learning those difficult pieces, naturally some of the episodes appear very frustrating to you, even if you have lots of experience on the organ, right? But you don’t give up, Ausra. You find a way to succeed, right? Either work slower or repeated places with repetitions.
A: I would say the main thing is to find time to practice. And if you will find time then everything will be just fine.
V: Not necessarily because if you—imagine we had time, right? We would practice like we do. But we always would take concert tempo. Would that be beneficial?
A: No, that wouldn’t be beneficial. And you know that very well, because we have talked about it so many times that you need to practice in a slower tempo.
V: Mmm-hmm. And sometimes we do fast tempo because we need to know if we’re ready for concert.
A: But some of these pieces were so hard that they were impossible to play in a concert tempo right away, even one single voice.
V: Right. What’s the most difficult piece for your part Ausra, in our program?
A: I don’t know. Now it doesn’t seem like there is any hard pieces left. But I think at the beginning it was your Veni Creator.
V: Oh! Opus 3a. Back in 2011, I created Veni Creator for two manuals, the pedals, organ solo piece. And I performed it quite a bit and few people also performed it. Not only in Lithuania but as we were looking for the Lithuanian organ repertoire for this Svendborg Organ Festival in Denmark, because they wanted Lithuanian music more, I thought of making a duet, organ duet arrangement of this Veni Creator. And I called it Opus 3a. I made lots of canons there. What you think about that disposition?
A: Well, it’s sort of turned out like a very nice piece, but it’s difficult at the beginning. Because the keys change so rapidly and there are some technical issues with left hand. For example, when you have to play parallel sixths in a fast tempo. Plus, you really need to have a good coordination and good action. I don’t think it would be so hard to play this piece solo, because when you are playing it solo, you don’t have all those endless canons.
V: Right. And to me it was easier even playing with you because I knew the music.
A: Well, I knew this music too by you playing it so many times but it didn’t make my life easier because I couldn’t play in a fast tempo as I used to hearing you playing.
V: Hmm. That’s right.
A: So, it took time to learn it. But now I think it’s going fairly well.
V: To me, difficult piece is Sonata by Bronius Kutavicius which is called Ad Patres. It is based on the cycle of seven paintings by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, Lithuanian painter and composer from the beginning of the Twentieth Century. And um…
A: It’s like a funeral symphony.
V: Yeah, like a funeral procession.
A: Seven paintings based on funeral procession.
A: Amazing paintings true, they are.
V: Bronius Kutavicius has the style of Lithuanian minimalist school, and he uses lots of modes and lots of repetition. So there are a couple of episodes in this piece that are difficult for both right hand and left hand to coordinate. But when you play for organ duet—because this piece was originally written for organ duet, and only later transcribed as a solo piece—then it’s kind of easier right? Because you divide the parts between the two players. But in your, one episode, you have to add one extra layer, right? So to me this fast episode still was difficult at the beginning, in May. But now I think as we’re working slower and slower, I think I’m much more secure now.
A: Yes, and also the piece called ‘The Sounds of Forest’…
V: Oh, uh…
A: By Kristina Vasiliauskaite, is difficult because it is handwritten. So we played from the autograph score. And it’s so widely spread that you have to do all this page turns and it’s quite frustrating. Plus, sometimes it’s hard to find your line, your three lines, and it’s sort of confusing.
A: I even marked my score, my three lines, in a red pen.
V: Why did you choose red?
A: Because that’s what I had to.
V: Uh, I see. I thought red was your favorite color.
A: No! It’s definitely not.
V: Alright guys, you see what kind of struggles and frustrations we have. And I hope you have less frustrations than we, or different kind of frustrations, maybe.
A: And you can share your frustrations with us.
V: In your questions.
A: Yes, and we try to help you out.
V: Alright. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: We are going to now record another podcast episode, but we hope you will start practicing today. Because, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 472 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. In this question, William writes:
“I worked on Meditation of Vierne. Not used to playing double flats. It was fun.”
V: What do you think, Ausra, about double flats?
A: Well, I think they are the same as double sharps!
V: Easier or harder?
A: Actually, it doesn’t matter if you understand the harmony well enough, and you are accustomed to keys that have more than a few accidentals.
V: In which cases do they write double sharps, and in which cases double flats?
A: Well, it depends on which way the melody moves, and well, if we are in a major key, then it’s more likely that we will have double flats, and if it’s a minor key, then it’s more likely that we will have double sharps. But of course, if you are playing in a key such as C major, then I doubt that you will encounter either double flats or double sharps.
A: Usually, double sharps and double flats start in the keys with 5 accidentals.
V: That’s right.
A: And, when you have double accidentals, usually it’s either a chromatic line when you need to fill out the gap between two notes, or it’s related with melodic minor or harmonic major.
V: I see.
A: That’s most often the keys in music when you use double flats and double sharps.
V: So, when William is encountering double flats in Meditation of Vierne, this means that probably this piece has more than 5 flats, right?
A: Yes! Or at least some spots, because the keys might change in the middle of the piece, and change for a few times in a piece, or even more.
V: What I meant is, in that spot where double flats are, it is a key with more than 5 accidentals, probably.
A: Yes. You know, the thing that makes me wonder is that for some people it’s still such a joy to find double flats, because do you play much attention to double flats when you are playing music?
V: Not anymore, but I wouldn’t say it was a joy. It was, I would say, frustrating for me, those double accidentals, at first. What about you?
A: True! Out of both, the most frustration is that some of my students still don’t know how to write them down.
V: They ask you, right, “How to write double sharp? How to write double flat?”
A: Yes. That’s right.
V: Usually, they know how to write double Flat, because they write two flats.
A: Yes, that’s what they want to do with sharps, too.
A: Yes, double sharps, too… just to write two sharps.
V: You can learn so much from your students.
V: So many new things! Excellent. So, it takes time, probably, to master those accidentals, and master those keys. If it gives trouble to William and anybody else, I would suggest working on scales, practicing scales with many accidentals; sharps and flats, and then you will encounter double flats and double sharps this way. Right?
A: That’s right.
V: And then arpeggios, and chords in those keys, on the piano probably would be a more natural way to play scales, but on the organ, you can also play scales as well. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: So, in general, you need to practice and have lots of experience with keys with many accidentals, and then things like double flats and double sharps will become a normal thing. Not a sort of extraordinary, frustrating thing, but part of the musical language the composer uses.
V: Okay guys! We hope this was useful to you. Please apply our tips in your practice; they really work for people who are action takers, and send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 469 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by William, and he writes:
“I worked on Meditation by Vierne. And the first page of Vierne Carillon. Very discouraging. Just can’t seem to bring tempos up after practicing. When you practice over and over slowly it is difficult to get pulse of to sound musical. Any thing I can do. Do I just keep going slow? At what point do you move tempo?”
V: Well Ausra, what do you think?
A: Well, it’s a tricky question, but it seems for me that maybe these pieces are too hard yet for William to play.
V: Either this, or I would add this special trick in reaching faster tempo by stopping, let’s say at each beat, holding the chord, preparing for the next chord, and playing notes in between the beats at a concert tempo—very fast. But in very short segments. And then, after one week maybe, I would double the segment when I stop, and stop after two quarter notes, maybe—a half note. Or later, I would do it stopping after each measure, and so double the fragment every week or so. Would that work?
A: Well, if you have patience. But it seems to me, from this message that maybe William wants to have a fast result, and to learn everything very quickly.
V: These are very difficult pieces—well, except Meditation, perhaps.
A: Yes, but Carillon, I’m talking about Carillon.
V: Yes, Carillon is difficult. So yeah. You have to arm yourself with patience and perhaps also at the same time work on several easier pieces, so that your technique will progress, and you would get faster results from other pieces, and more enjoyment.
A: I find myself, sometimes, that it is much harder for me to learn pieces that I know. I have listened so many times as, for example, this particular piece by Vierne I’m currently on, because you know it so well! But you haven’t played it, and you want to sit down on the organ bench and know how to play right away as you have heard on the recording.
V: Plus, the Carillon of Vierne really requires very good finger technique, because they have many parallel intervals, like double sixth, and that’s difficult.
A: I think this is a good piece to practice on the piano. Don’t you think so? ...the manual part.
V: True, yeah, I would do that. Absolutely. I would spend much of my practice on the piano, because the pedal part is not very complex.
A: Especially if you are playing not on the tracker organ. It doesn’t give your finger enough work to develop your muscles.
V: You mean workout.
A: Yes, workout. That way, piano could help.
V: Good advice, I think.
A: And I think, also, when working on achieving fast tempo, I think working on the piano would help, too.
V: Right. When we’re working on French symphonic music, we have to realize those people were excellent piano virtuosos, too, most of them, and had tremendous power in their fingers. Plus, French cathedral organs have very light touch, and it’s easier to play, of course, if you have great finger technique and a light touch on the keyboard.
A: But then there’s sort of also this danger, that when you are playing on a light keyboard all the time, you might lose control, and things might get muddy if you are playing fast all the time and are on a light keyboard. At least, that’s my experience with such kinds of pieces and…
V: I’ve read many times that the French school recommends also practicing piano works regularly, like etudes by Chopin and Liszt to improve your technique, and maintain your technique as well!
A: Yes, true. But I guess, you know, even playing etudes by Czerny wouldn’t hurt.
V: Yeah, also Hanon excercises. So, lots of ideas to apply for William and anybody else who is struggling with virtuoso music by Louis Vierne. Please, guys, send us more questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
Yesterday I asked our community if anyone could identify this piece. Dan would be very happy for your help.
Less than 2 hours have passed and I have received the following message from Bernard:
The name of the piece about which Dan is inquiring is:
Scherzo by Percy Whitlock, from his ‘Five Short Pieces’.
Published by OUP.
I'm very grateful to Bernard for providing the answer and I'm sure Dan will be very happy... In fact, he wrote to me:
Ah interesting. Thanks for that Vidas. Very cool.
This shows me the power of our community in helping each other. Collectively we are much smarter and stronger than anyone is individually.
I received a message today from Dan who seeks helps in identifying this piece:
"Hi Vidas, do you have any idea what this piece is here? This recording is taken from some recordings that were done at the school for the blind that we have here in the town where I’m from. I’d went there until 2006, and got my start in organ there in 2004. This is the same organ that I’d started out on, a 1961 3-manual Casavant. This recording, I think was done sometime in the 1970’s."
Here is this piece
Do you know what it is? Dan would surely appreciate your help.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.