I was fortunate to attend the West Region of the American Guild of Organists convention last month in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was awe-inspiring to listen to the grand organs of Salt Lake, to meet the many organists and composers whose names I knew from the hymn settings that I play every week, and to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra during rehearsals and a grand concert. The Concert was entitled, “WITH CHEERFUL VOICE: Hymns, Folk Hymns, and Spirituals” and included such songs as Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Sing Praise to God who Reigns Above; Deep River; Battle of Jericho; Little David, play on your harp; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling; and two settings of OLD HUNDREDTH which is the tune we sing each week for our Doxology. I was also pleased to meet Michael Kleinschmidt, who is the Canon Musician of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. He designed and led an Evensong service at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, which is Salt Lake’s Episcopal Cathedral. It was wonderful to live the experience of being a part of the congregation full of musicians during Evensong!
Each day we attended organ recitals at the Mormon Tabernacle, which has an Aeolian-Skinner organ celebrating 150 years, and at the new Conference Center on Temple Square, which has a new Schoenstein & Co. organ. At each of the recitals, a new organ arrangement of a hymn was premiered by the arranger, and the pieces were compiled into a new book entitled, REFLECTIONS, which was commissioned by the AGO. It was wonderful to hear how each arranger voiced their piece on the organ, and I plan to play several of the new commissions as Preludes this summer. On July 9th, the Prelude will be a Voluntary on the hymn “Beautiful Savior” (Fairest Lord Jesus) by Franklin Ashdown, and on July 23rd, a new setting of “Nearer my God, to Thee” by Tabernacle organist, Clay Christiansen.
If you would like to chat with me and learn more about this grand experience, feel free to email me at: email@example.com