On a cold Friday morning in February, six organists huddle in a small circle while another plays J.S. Bach’s O Lamm Gottes from the Leipzig Eighteen Chorale Preludes. Several dog-eared scores are propped on music stands, and the organists follow the score, listen intently with their eyes closed, or walk around the sanctuary.
The piece ends, and feedback is shared about the actual performance. There’s engaged dialogue about the registration, the possible significance of Bach’s placement of the cantus firmus in each of the three sections, and the articulation of the pedal notes at the end. A side conversation about arm weight and finger dexterity erupts into a lively conversation about how some of us have had to revise our technique over the years.
This is a common scene at the Organ Performance Group, which is going into its third year in October 2017. The group is the inspiration of David Dahl and Satya Jaech. Satya had heard about writers’ groups where authors read their work for each other and receive feedback. She wondered whether a similar format would work for organists. David, having taught and performed for close to 60 years, generously offered to share his knowledge of performance practice and his seasoned experience with the organ repertoire.
What started as an experiment has evolved into a congenial group that meets regularly one Friday morning each month at Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma. Most of us bring a piece to perform, and the morning unfolds in much the way that these first paragraphs suggest. Each of us brings a unique perspective to the group and to the pieces that are performed. This spirit of collegiality, mutual respect, and support continues over optional lunch at a nearby café.
New participants are always welcome to join us. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Organ Performance Group, please contact Satya Jaech .