Around 800 AD, the organ was pressed into service during Christian worship and it has never looked back. Just sort of more than all the other instruments the organ’s range of sounds, from infinitesimal to infinite, reflect the infinity of God and the universe. One NPC member told me “the organ opens my soul” while another said she loves the organ loud because “I don’t just hear it; I feel it in my body”. Personally, I love the sound of a haunting flute stop hovering above a quiet accompaniment, filling the sanctuary with a hush of quietude.
To achieve these kinds of sound goals organists, like all degreed professionals, undertake professional development to grow their skills and knowledge. It will be my privilege this year (partially underwritten by NPC) to study in the UK and France, playing instruments in Westminster Abbey, important churches in Paris, and in Alsatian villages (organs from the early 1700s); on previous trips we have played the organs in St Peter’s in Rome and at Versailles.
In playing these instruments from so long ago we become able to focus on reproducing actual sounds of music from as early at 1500, to really understand and duplicate the spiritual musical expression of the last 500 years. I look forward to sharing all that I have heard and learned as we worship together in late July. See you then!