The American Guild of Organists held its most recent biennial national convention in Houston, Texas, June 19-23. It was a pleasure to hear several outstanding concerts and recitals and workshops. Among standout events were four recitals, three of which took place on organs built by our own local distinguished organ builders.
Michel Bouvard from Toulouse, France, played the official opening recital on the large Martin Pasi organ at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Enhancing the superb organ and excellent playing were the highly reverberant yet completely clear acoustics. The large space of the cathedral permitted the entire 1200 of the convention to be seated.
Two other first-rate events took place at St. Phillip Presbyterian Church, home of the superb three manual organ by Paul Fritts and Co. German organist Ludger Lohman played a very fine program of Bach, Brahms, Chelsea Chen and Liszt. The other recital featured Hans Davidsson, Swedish organist, together with three professional ballet dancers (two of which are Davidsson’s sons) in a stunningly choreographed program using the organ music of Georg Böhm. Colorful registrations from the organ were joined with evocative dancing, all of which made for a most memorable experience.
The fourth outstanding recital (for this reviewer), was played by Daryl Robinson on the Rosales/Fisk organ at Rice University. The large organ housed in a relatively small recital hall is conceived in a French symphonic style. Robinson used the organ deftly with superb musicianship, especially apparent in his performance of the Cesar Franck Chorale II in b minor.
I also had the pleasure of hearing the premiere of my own commissioned hymn prelude on DUNEDIN as part of a Choral Evensong held at Christ Church Cathedral.
The well organized convention ran smoothly except for a couple of bus snafus, one of which involved an unnecessary two-hour bus ride in the direction of Austin, Texas that should have been only ten minutes. Yes, we missed that recital. Even the three thunderstorms and the humid 90s-degree weather did not dampen our ability to enjoy a great variety of musical treats at AGO Houston, 2016.