Posts Tagged ‘organ’

Playing For The Masses

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

“Meet me at 5pm and we’ll go over the music selections (said in rapid fire Italian).”

I show up and mass is happening. Sit, stand, kneel through mass and he has 5 minutes (maybe), and off he goes back to the monastery at St. A’ntimo for Vespers.  

If I knew what to do, I would be a lot less nervous for all the services scheduled this Holy Week. Mind you, playing antique organs in ancient churches in a foreign language on their special days is an honor this protestant/anglo doesn’t want to pass up.  Amen

Madonna’s Greatest Hits

Monday, May 11th, 2009


There is always something to celebrate in Montalcino.

This past weekend was the celebration of their patron saint:  Madonna di Soccorso.

Her image saved the day from a seige by the Spaniards  in the 1500’s, and since then the 8th of May is always a big deal with parades, church masses, first communion, community suppers, tombola(italian bingo), and more.  This ends with Mothers Day.  


I was asked to play the organ in the exquisitely beautiful Madonna church for the Archbishop of Siena and all went well on yet another relic organ.

The Italian people really venerate the past and teach their children to hold it dear also. Though outsiders, a few Montalcinese have opened their hearts to us, and in giving back in some small way, we are  a little bit Montalcino and a little bit Catholic!

Easter Sunday Organ In Montalcino

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009


Easter Italian Style

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Buon Pasqua!

What an Easter!  The taunting task of 4 services was not the walk in the park I thought I might be.  The tension of liturgy coming at me in Italian, in two different venues, sequestered in an organ loft that was lofty, and organs that had been around for over century.  Feeling the nudge to offer my services was my easter giving, it came back at me as maybe a way to fill the void of not being at Lake San Marcos – they have so much been in my heart this week.

The Maundy service was tense being the first one on the antique organ in the Duomo, but then Saturday night’s service started at 10 pm and didn’t’ end until midnight!

Sunday at 9 and 11 am were filled to capacity with easily 40 plus standing at the first, and maybe 100 standing beside the packed pews at the 11am.

wildboarThe town is bursting with tourists and family that have come back home to visit for the holiday.  We felt very lucky to find room at a restaurant we wanted to try after the first one was all booked.  What a meal!  I had homemade ravioli in burro as primo piatta, Steve had  zuppa di funghi, Mary and Ron had crostini .  For our secundo piatta,  Ron and I had roast chicken in brunello sauce and sauteed spinach with lemon, Steve had cingheri stew (wild boar).  Mary had boar in padetti noodles and a side of white beans.  A bottle of Rosso di Montalcino topped it off. 

gelattoWhile walking off our meal, several were tempted to have a gelato chaser to a great meal!

We are so enjoying having Ron and Mary Jenson as travel buddies!  So brave and so far to travel, but they immediately sensed how special this place is.

Tomorrow we will drive to Sienna and on Tuesday we will have a private tour of wineries and points of interest (we hired a private driver).  On Wednesday we will attempt an early train to Florence .  Thursday will be a quiet day, and then return Ron and Mary to Pisa for their flight home. 

They have been such support this weekend with all the organ stuff.

Our hearts have held our families close today as we celebrate loving you, and our Risen Lord from so far away. 

We have just finished a meal of bread, cheese with honey, bruschett, and Italian pastries, and, oh yes, more wine.  We were sitting around a coffee table listening to jazz and counting our blessings.  You are all at the top of my list!

Organ Practicing

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Maundy Thursday Organist

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

The Duomo was  the site tonight of the inaugural playing by me of Catholic Liturgy!  I was suspended 3 stories above the altar area in front of the pipes of an organ from the year 1858 with bellows and all.  It was a very meaningful service: Father Piernino washed duomoorganthe feet of 12 men, then communion followed by a silent procession over to a narthex which was decorated like a garden to represent the Garden of Gethsemane

I played for about 8 different chants.  We seemed to be together, but the acoustics were really reverberating up to me.  I don’t get freedom to play any prelude or anything, it’s by the book .  Steve hung out with me in the balcony to keep me apprised of what  was happening down below as I had no visual.  There were no bats in the belfry, but I didn’t look to closely.  There is a huge dome above this photo.

This Saturday I play at 10 pm and somehow it involves fire (?) (“…He descended into hell…”).  Then again at 9am and 11 am on sunday.  It has been a little nervewracking, but an experience I will never forget.  Maybe Father Piernino will let the Pope know, and I can have and audience with Him when I get to Rome.

Holy Week, Italian Style

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

There are 9 churches in Montalcino.  The town in the 1400’s was about 15,000 people, now 5000 live here and there.  There are no resident priests.  They come from an Abbey down the hill and travel from congregation to congregation within the village on Sunday. 

clocktowermontalcinoWe attended a catholic mass at 9am, Palm Sunday.  Everyone got olive branches (when in Rome…).  Then the Father jumped in his car and went across town (1/4 mile) and did it all over again.   Both churches had pipes and organ consuls but were silent.  The congregation at the first was all seniors, but there were families at the second (10:30 service).  We engaged the Padre in conversation (he spoke French and Italian only) and the long and short of it is that I volunteered to play the organ for Pasqua (Easter) services.  I think he was genuinely excited because I am booked for the Saturday 10pm service at one church, and the Sunday 9 and 10:30 at two other churches.

I explained “No, sono catolico” but he said it was ok, because it was the same God!   I meet with Padre Piernino tomorrow at Church #1 at 6pm for a look at the first church and to learn (?) Catholic liturgy. 

I can’t imagine not playing on an Easter Sunday, I guess God couldn’t either. May it be to His glory, not mine!!

What an honor to play in these ancient churches …Amazing!