SOPP377: Recording an organ DVD was a very time consuming process, because there were so many details to consider
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas, and I’m so delighted to be able to start our 377th episode of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And, on the other end of the line is John Higgins, from Australia. He’s the organist of Morewell Presbyterian Church in Australia. And he visited Vilnius and our church some months ago, maybe last year in the Spring, I believe in April. And he played a wonderful organ recital in our church. I have to emphasize that John is one of the first online students, and has been with us since, I believe, the beginning of 2012. So thanks so much, John, and welcome to the show.
John: Thank you so much, and thanks for your kind words of welcome.
V: And today, I have to remind our listeners that John has been a guest on our podcast conversations a number of times, and today we’ll be talking about his newest release of a DVD. He recorded and released a DVD recording, which Ausra and I gladly saw last weekend, and it has been recorded in his church, in Morewell Presbyterian Church. Saint Andrews Church it’s called, right? So wonderful, I think it’s an achievement in itself to publish this DVD, so we’ll be talking a little bit more about your process, about your struggles. Right, John? First of all, how did you come up with the idea to publish this DVD?
J: Many contributing factors. And, I mean, none of this would have even been possible without learning how to play the organ, first, and I’ve been on such an incredible journey, being your student, and learning over the Internet, and apart from learning how to play, also having the belief and bravery to try to make the DVD, because, I’ll say one of the hardest actions I had to do was doing this recording for other people. And then a number of other things came together that I would say were providential, that we had wonderful historic organ in our church, which I’m privileged to play regularly, and I made a friend who works in local TV channel in our area. And so, he had all of the expertise and all the equipment, such as professional TV camera equipment and microphones, so it seemed to me that all the pieces of the puzzle came together at one time.
V: Yes. Wonderful. You know, not too many organists do this! They continue to play the organ, sometimes play recitals, but recording a DVD or a CD, for example, is really a big achievement, I think, because every note that you record is like an evidence! It will be there with you 10 years after this recording has been published—maybe 20 years, maybe for your entire lifetime. Right? So it’s wonderful that you committed to this. Was it very strenuous work for you, or did you record it in a few sittings?
J: That’s right, it was a very time consuming process, because there were so many details that I didn’t consider, that I had in the back of my mind that the hardest challenge was going to be playing the music, and yet I found that I was stretched and challenged in so many other areas of my life and having to learn new skills for the first time, that, for example, learning how to speak to a TV camera, learning how to move your hands at the right time, how to walk slowly and leisurely, and then all the video editing process, how that’s done and the art work design, and then dealing with the DVD manufacturing company and making sure that they made it exactly right, and checking it at all times. There’s a huge amount of work and lots of things to manage that I had thought about.
V: Right. So, I’ve seen you play in Vilnius, and I have seen your DVD here in our living room with Ausra, and we were so impressed that a person who has started playing the organ literally 7 years ago could do things like that on a large 3 manual organ in Vilnius, but also on your two manual instrument in Morewell. We were so impressed, and you are like a living example of what a person can achieve regardless of age. It doesn’t matter when you start. Right? It doesn’t matter that you didn’t start at six years old or seven years old like famous virtuosos would start. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t have a formal musical education. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” I believe this kind of saying fits you very well, because you had a passion, you had a dream, and you persevered and you saw it through.
J. Yes, thank you! Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you, and as I said at the start, I would not have been able to achieve any of this without the teaching and important coaching you’ve given me online, but I think even more than the coaching is the challenge and inspiration, because I think these experiences have been one of the bravest things that I’ve ever done, because there have been so many self doubts. For example, when I did the initial recordings, I played the music over about two days, and then I did the introductions of the DVD for each of the pieces at the end of that recording, and that was a big mistake, because I was so tired after all the playing, that I was very flat, I didn’t have energy to teach about pieces to the camera, and I took a copy of the footage away and started looking at it, and I looked at my playing and I looked at the teaching I was doing, and I thought, “oh, maybe I should quit this right now. It’s no good.” And I had some of my very close friends have a look at the initial footage, and they said, this doesn’t look like you. You’re not smiling, you don’t have energy like you normally do when we speak to you. So, then I had to spend about nearly two weeks agonizing over what I was going to do, and I thought, “Do I just push forward with this, and what it is is what it is, or am I going to strive for excellence?” And even though I’ve made a bit of a mess of that, had another go. So, I’ve had to pay quite a bit more money to the cameramen to do another recording session. And in the introduction to the church and pieces of 15 minutes it took more than three hours of recording to get 15 minutes.
(The conversation continues in the next episode)
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