Off Beat Playing organ like flying a B52 bomber

first_imgHistoric pipe organs are marvels, said Tim Nickel.As organist at St. Luke’s ~ San Lucas Episcopal Church in Vancouver, he fills the sanctuary during Sunday services with musical majesty.The mechanical process of air flowing through pipes in a Johann Sebastian Bach fugue is truly marvelous.But there’s another side to it. Some organs, and the churches where they were installed, have inspired the faithful for centuries.Nickel and his wife, Nancy LeRoi-Nickel, contributed to some of that spirit during their own recitals in Europe. The highest-profile performance was in August 2015, when the Nickels were invited to play a duet recital at the cathedral in Orleans, France.“That’s Joan of Arc’s home town,” he noted. The hosts made the Nickels feel at home.“They gave us the key to the organ loft so we could adapt our material to the program.” Historic organs are all different, he said. “And since two organists are playing one instrument, we had to figure a way to accomplish that with four hands and four feet.”The Orleans organ is a relative newcomer to the cathedral, which has origins going back a thousand years. The organ was made in the 19th century by Aristide Cavaille-Coll. He actually was a contemporary of W.K. Adams, who made the organ Nickel plays at St. Luke’s ~ San Lucas.“Cavaille-Coll organs are particularly prized. They’re considered the highest achievement of French Romantic style,” said Nickel, who called the performance “an experience of a lifetime.”Despite the magnificent surroundings, the Nickels had to stay on task.“When you’re performing, you’re completely focused on the music. You’re not aware of the audience,” he said. (Even though the crowd of more than 700 was the biggest audience he’s ever had.)last_img

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