A few months ago, I took a job as a church organist/choir director at a small parish here in Boston, ending an extended sabbatical from church music that started back when McDoc and I got married and I wanted to have weekends free for a while. I’ve been playing church organ on and off since I was a teenager, and it’s a good gig. Like any job, there are pressures that go along with it, and like any artistic endeavor, sometimes the saying “everyone’s a critic” applies.
Today I attended an ordination service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, in support of a friend of McDoc’s and mine who was being ordained a deacon. This was a very big-deal service, packed to the gills with clergy and other very churchy folk, and there was a lot of music involved. I definitely did not envy the music director his job on this particular occasion; not only was he in the spotlight, but it was in front of plenty of people who would have very strong opinions about every last detail of the musical component of the service. Not only that, but it was a so-called “blended” service — that is, it included a mix of traditional and contemporary music. The idea behind this approach — and a worthy and noble idea it is — is to have something everyone will like and/or find familiar. Sadly, it can also produce the corollary effect that there’s something everyone will hate and/or find alienating. It’s a tricky balancing act.
One thing I learned today (or confirmed, really) is that certain hymns need to be accompanied on the organ always, never the piano. (The reverse is also true.) I have to confess that the piano is my first love, and the organ and I have more of a love-hate relationship, so to be in a situation where I longed to hear the organ was, well, refreshing! 😉
Here’s one of the hymns that fall into the one-and-not-the-other category. And depending on your point of view, it’s either powerful and majestic, or stodgy and interminable. I’m rather fond of it, myself. 🙂
(Note: don’t be deterred by the slightly annoying twenty-two-second intro!)
I hope the critics aren’t too harsh with me tomorrow, when I give my second Boston recital! If you’re in the area, please join me!
Linda Kernohan, composer/pianist/organist
With guest artist Peter Terry, voice
Sunday, June 6, 2010, 7:30 pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain
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$10 suggested donation (but no one will be turned away!)