It’s Springtime. But what can you do in the garden or where can you hike when it’s blustery and grey? Listen to some organ music! Readers know that if there’s an organ concert in the area, that is my first choice of activity, rain or shine.
With rain threatening, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Carmel, CA opened its doors on March 3, 2019 to host a wonderful afternoon of Organ Plus. The pews were comfortably full with curious listeners. The venue is accessible, pleasant nibbles are offered, and with the stop list in the program one can get to know the instrument. Organist Paul Carmona, an Episcopal priest from the San Diego area, kicked off the Saturday afternoon with a few pre-concert thoughts. Starting promptly at 3 PM, he moved to the organ bench to present “Making Music with Friends and By Friends.”
The pieces were carefully chosen and played with great care. He started out with Frescobaldi and Valente. Lo Ballo dell’ Intorcia, composed by Valente, was delightful. Next, he explained his research and registration decisions by offering a Bach piece after a concerto by Marcello. Then he welcomed Martin Marheineke, a friend from his High School days, to play two pieces by Krebs for Trumpet and Organ. Those who practice, perform, and even teach music create a special bond when they play together. These two friends shared that bond with the audience.
To finish out, Dr. Carmona chose pieces composed by friends of his: Orff Fun by Lea Schmidt Rogers, Sonnet for Organ by Walter Arlen, and a set by Dom Paul Benoit. Although much of the organ music we hear is of a sacred nature, the Rogers piece was a burst of simple fun from the classroom. Make no mistake. For one person to play all those ostinatos on one instrument was an impressive feat. Continuing his comments from before the concert, Dr. Carmona explained the inspiration of the Walter Arlen piece, which was born of experiences during the Holocaust during WWII. You could definitely hear the wish for peace. And finally, we heard three pieces by Benoit, Le Bon Pasteur, Fidelis Servus, and Prelude a un Introit du Premier Mode. The first is probably Benoit’s most well-known piece. Perhaps he shared it with students, which included Dr. Carmona, after the lessons finished.
That chance to listen and to learn is what makes this concert series at St. Dunstan’s special. Hearing various organists play while learning about the works they choose is a real bonus. Dr. Carmona shared not just his mastery of the instrument, knowledge of the compositions, but also his own personal connection to the music. He presented the music simply. He didn’t detract or confuse with showiness, but offered anecdotes and thoughts. The listener is given time to ponder and absorb. It was clear the audience was attentive and appreciative of this chance and enjoyed the performance. Even the frogs in the garden enjoyed the music! Thank you to St. Dunstan’s for sharing their instrument. Thank you Paul Carmona for sharing your music.