Wild Air

The Seven Last Words

April 30th, 2010

Occasionally, we all wonder why we struggle to pursue whatever it is we have been called to do.   Such introspection is perhaps a necessary part of being human.

I don’t build organs to get rich.   I don’t do it because I have some particular academic ax to grind.   I suppose I do it as a sort of ministry, although that might be too high-flown a description of the fact that I build organs because I think that’s what I was put here to do.

On Good Friday last, I was reminded of why my job is meaningful to me.

On that evening, Mark Gilgallon led the choir and soloists of North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis in a performance of “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” by Theodore Dubois.   This magnificent choral work was integrated into a Good Friday service of reflection and meditation.

Part of what made it special for my wife, Tina, and me, was the sound of the great Kimball pipe organ at North.   We had the honor (actually, as some pastors might put it, it was both a “joy and a concern”) of renovating this magnificent instrument a few years back.   The organ is not historically “original,” and we have put our tonal stamp on some of it, but every original Kimball stop is in its original place, and the sound is thrilling.

There is something visceral about the sound of a great organ in a great space.     But on Good Friday, the combination of chorus, soloists, and the organ created a vision of the Passion that was almost overwhelming.  

So, my special thanks to Mark and the North UMC Choir, and to the incomparable Martin Ellis whose playing of the great Kimball/Reynolds organ continues to thrill me.   Thanks for reminding a couple of tired organ builders why we do what we do.   It’s all worth it.

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