Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Organ Recital

Some events, moments, or seconds in life are so extraordinary that one wonders if one really experienced it. Or was it a dream? An invention of the mind? Wishful thinking? I once saw a completely vivid double rainbow while in an isolated area of Colorado. It was so brilliant that a camera could not capture the color, the stillness, the vibration of two, side by side rainbows over Great Sand Dunes National Monument. It is captured in my mind as a gift from God, that I was in that place at that time in that circumstance with eyes to see.

Two years ago we were driving down a rutted mudcaked road in the Ozarks, trying to find blueberries when we saw a brilliant blue bird flying right in front of our car, as if he were leading us into the field. Once again, a camera would not capture that experience, but it is etched in my memory.

Last week I received an email from a musician friend about an upcoming organ recital at First Baptist Church on Friday, March 5. The Nichols-Simpson Organ was installed there just two years ago and many fine and well trained organists from our area and from far away have performed on it. I had the extraordinary experience of getting to tour the organ right after it was built. Harmony Club had a meeting at the church, and the late Dr. John Campbell played on the organ and then led us up the narrow flights of stairs, through the extremely narrow passage ways behind the great pipes to view the crawl spaces and see the tiny pipes. It was like peering into God's closet! I felt as though I were invading a sacred place where music is formed in the depths of the earth--like a place where babies are made before they are conceived or something absolutely secretive and awesome is revealed to only a select few people.

Muffin and I went to the recital last night to hear Nathan Laube, twenty-one year old organist extraordinaire. It was an experience that rocked my world! I feel like slapping myself to see if I'm still here after hearing that performance on that organ. He played Die Fledermaus. I have played that many times in an orchestra. All the parts were there. All the voices of all the instruments were there. Every nuance of every phrase was in the performance. He played Bach. I thought I would weep. I closed my eyes and just drifted up to the throne of God and worshipped as he played on and on and the Holy Spirit and I climbed into waterfalls of sound and facets of light and ribbons of color. I thought I couldn't stand any more.

Then Nathan played Jongen, Mozart, and Durufle. The sonata ended with a toccata that was perfection. After many ovations Nathan honored us, and the memory of Dr. John Campbell who died exactly one year ago, with an exquisite Andante by Widor that was so sweet it did make me weep. At the intermission of the recital I saw one of the organists who teaches at a local university and asked her how this music was even possible. Was I really hearing something so extraordinary? Was he actually playing as flawlessly and musically and expressively as I thought he was? Was it actually possible to have memorized over two hours of music so complicated and intricate and have just given us that gift? Her response is that she thought Nathan might have four brains. The technical skills combined with the memory and musicality of such a monumental work left me stunned. Almost no one spoke or moved for several seconds at the end of the final performance. Thank you Nathan Laube for your gift of music. Thank you God, for your gift of Nathan Laube.

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