Three Years

It has been over three years since I last posted on this blog. I figured I’d give a little update as to what has been happening in my life in that time. In a nut-shell I got a job with an organ builder and our whole family moved from the Chicago Suburbs to up-state New York where we now live on the edge of the Finger Lakes region in a nice little rural town. I’m working for Parsons Pipe Organ Builders based in Canandaigua, about 40 minutes south of Rochester.

At the time of writing this, it’s been three years since my wife and I came out to New York to visit the Parsons’ shop and tour the area a little. We were actually driving back to Illinois three years ago this day and I KNEW I wanted to accept the job. So I did and I have not regretted it!

I’m now working with a group of guys (and gals!) for whom I hold a lot of respect and have the joy of learning from–on a daily basis–the in’s and out’s of pipe organ tuning, servicing and building. Sure, I’ve been working here for three years, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new. This job has been very fulfilling in many ways, and I am passionate about it.

As such, I’ve been so busy working/talking/breathing all things pipe organ on a daily basis, the need I had for this blog that I had started has pretty much disappeared. I’ve certainly kept up on my CD music collection (something that my wife was hoping this job would curb a little) and now have a collection of 500+ CD’s to enjoy. But when you work with this stuff all day, the need to come home and write about it all but disappears.

I have often thought of just deleting this blog and being done with it completely. But, I can’t quite bring myself to do it. In yet, I haven’t posted for three whole years. For now I’m going to leave it as-is, but perhaps in the future I might start writing about some of my experiences in my new career. We’ll see… In the meantime it is interesting to see how much time, love and passion I poured into this blog in the past…

Some fun in Italy

No, I’m not in Italy. No, I didn’t go to Italy and no I’m not going to Italy. I wish. The only people in my family who have had that pleasure are my sister and brother-in-law. But thanks to music albums, the gap that spans my house here in the US and Italy is made short to the distance between my speakers and ears! Today I am deep into discovering the organ works of Pietro Alessandro Yon (1886-1943), performed on four different Italian instruments.

Before today, my exposure to the organ works of Pietro Yon have been quite limited. I have encountered his Gesù Bambino quite a bit, and a few recordings of his Humoresque “l’organo primitivo” over the years. I had the pleasure of attending a organ concert performed by Diane Bish on the organ at my college, she performed the Finale from Yon’s Concerto Gregoriano for solo organ, a piece I have since fallen in love with, but have never had a recording of…
Until now!

Today, thanks to the efforts of organist Elisa Teglia and the Tactus label, I have in my hands a four-disc set of Yon’s complete organ works!


Now, I first encountered this album on Spotify (great resource with TONS of organ music available to listen to, by the way!). After listening to Yon’s Cristo Trionfante, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy of the album! It wasn’t until I had the hard copy in hand and read through the liner notes that I learned why I loved that piece of music so much. It is an Easter piece based on the theme O filii et filiae, one of my favorite Easter themes. Knowing what to listen for, upon re-listening to it I can definitely hear it. I never caught that before…

It’s also been nice to finally hear the rest of the Concerto Gregoriano for solo organ. It’s a splendid work of music and virtuosity (much of his work seems pretty demanding on the performer). I also greatly enjoyed the Sonata Cromatica, as well as some other

From reading the liner notes on Yon, I was surprised to learn that not only did he become an American Citizen in 1921, but that Yon also was the organist and music director of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Apparently he was quite a famed musical figure, even for a while after his death in 1943. It makes me wonder why his works don’t have more of a presence in the repertoire being played at recitals these days, or why there has not been a recording of his organ works before now…

Now admittedly, I am not too familiar with Italian composers or instruments. The few encounters I’ve had with them have not been great. Up till now, the only organ music from an Italian composer I’ve had is the (few) organ works by Ottorino Respighi. So it is nice to add something new to the mix.

While I appreciate and enjoy most of Yon’s organ works presented on this album, I am not as thrilled about all the instruments that they chose to record on. Each disc is recorded on a different instrument and for my personal tastes the first and fourth discs have the best sound and acoustics, particularly the first on the organ at Duomo di Como. Unfortunately the second disc featuring the organ at Chiesa Natività B.V.Maria, Trebaseleghe just sounds like it is in a space that is acoustically non-existent… Particularly when you compare it to Duomo di Como. I wish the Concerto Gregoriano had been recorded one of the other instruments.

Italian organs also seem awfully bright in their sound. Often times bordering on shrill. Anybody who knows me, I don’t mind nice crisp clear speaking stops. But for my ears there’s a fine line between that and the point at which an organ sounds “screechy.” Some of these organs dance around that line a little too close for my comfort.

But I really do have much to thank of Else Teglia for this record album. It’s fun to step out of the familiar and hear new things! Honestly, this album makes me rethink my long-held caution for exploring Italian organ music. This is a welcome album to my collection…


Of books, recordings, and saw dust…

Christmas was fun this year. Lots of fun times gathering with family! Lots of good food! Watching the season through my kids eyes! It was great. It was also really good for the organ nut that I am! Between gifts, things I’ve found, and things I’ve done, the last few weeks have been interesting.

My wife spoiled me this Christmas with a new recording, recently released, of the organ works of Belgian composer Joseph Callaerts, as well as the final volume in organ works by Gustav Merkel. My brother got me a recording of another Belgian composer, organ works by Guy Weitz. Lots of music to listen too–music I have never heard before! Love it!


A few days after Christmas I had the opportunity to go down to Lafayette, Indiana, to my brother-in-law’s house to continue work on this never-ending organ façade project! After spending the last 2-3 trips working on all the detail woodwork on the front piece, I took a break from that this time around to assist my brother-in-law in cutting out and assembling the two large side panels of the façade!

It was great to get those accomplished, and I am very pleased with how they turned out. This was also the first time I had to purchase any wood for this project. We needed 4 uprights of 93″ in length, as well as plywood for the inserts on the panels. Both panels are quite the mix of different types of wood grain patterns, with a few absolutely jaw-dropping-gorgeous pieces of quarter sawn oak in there as well.

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The flip side is, other than sanding and finishing, those panels are essentially done. So next time I go down there it is back to the grindstone with the front piece and it’s incredibly tedious and detailed woodwork. Who the heck designed this thing anyway?!?

Truth is, after all this work, my brother-in-law and I would probably have used a different method for building and assembling the front piece… But you live and learn by doing, right?

I also made a great find for my organ book collection. One organ builder highly recommended that I read Peter Williams The European Organ, and I was able to track down a copy months ago, through inter-library loans. Sadly I had to return it before I even got half way through it. But I found a descent copy on eBay that had a price tag on it that I would have been stupid to pass up on. So I bought it. Just got it in the mail. Now I just have to figure out where I left off! (Or start all over again, which might not be a bad idea.)

Then there’s the whole job-search thing… It has been almost two years since I started pursuing this dream of getting involved in organ building and it feels like I have gotten nowhere. In spite of many builders encouraging me to “not give up” and “be persistent,” I really found myself giving up.

For over a month I had new letters and an updated resumé waiting to be sent. Fear was stopping me. I finally got them printed, stuffed in envelopes, and stamped the weekend before last. But even the morning I mailed them out I was very reluctant to let them go.


I had to remind myself that the whole reason I took those woodworking classes was to prove to myself (and others) that I COULD DO THIS. If I were to give up, the time and money I put into those classes, and the skills I learned, would be for nothing. I had to remind myself that I would be far more disappointed with myself if I chickened out of this now, than if I were to try and give it my all–even if nothing comes of it. I also had to remind myself to pray about it.

So the letters got sent. We’ll see what God has in store…

In the meantime, I’ve got music to listen to and enjoy, books to read and things to learn, and albums to collect! This is me, just being me.

I’m having fun.