Sunday, September 18, a small but appreciative audience heard a magnificent organ performance at St. Andrews Episcopal in the first event of FASO’s 22/23 season. FASO: the acronym for Friends of the Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1024, is the organization which arranges the concert season featuring the best organists on the planet showcasing the awesome potential of the AS 1024.
And the few, somewhere around fifty, enjoyed what can only be called a world-class program from a world-class artist!
Dr. Damin Spritzer is Area Chair and Associate Professor of Organ at the University of Oklahoma. Her credentials, including her recordings, ran for three pages.
As for the concert, she served up a rich array of musical pastries, akin to rich German chocolate cake with inch-thick icing! With pieces selected from the Baroque through the late 20th century, her fingers and feet, through an arduous nearly two hour program, revealed the capacity for color and texture, not to mention the sheer power of this 106 stop instrument, especially as amplified by the three to four second reverberation resonating in the sanctuary.
In fact, in her first few remarks, she stated that each piece had a story to tell. And, the AS proved an incomparable raconteur in this narration.
Two selections from Cinq Invocations by Henri Dallier, long-time organist at la Madeleine in Paris, stood out: Pulchra et luna and Elucta ut sol. It was Abbott Suger, builder of the first Gothic cathedral, St. Denis in the 13th century, who said that the light coming through the stained=glass windows became divine light, “a reflection of the greater glory of God!”
What the audience heard was a chromatic kaleidoscope evoking the divinity of the day and night time lights.
Damin played three Bach works, two being arrangements. The other was Fantasia in G, BWV 572. The actual date of the composition is of some debate, as no original signed copy of the score has been found.
The piece is actually a toccata sandwich, with a contrapuntal middle. The Fantasia begins with a high-toned patter of spring rain, which alternates between banks of keys and gradually descends registers, all sans pedals. At 1:57 the mood changes: great, grand chords come from the AS which fill the vault of St. Andrews with a stately musical progression. This ennobling by keyboards and pedals continued for fully five minutes. Then at the last two minutes, the rainfall returns, but concentrated on the higher bank of keys. Finally, at 8:33, the composer drops to the lower bank to finish the composition with an artistic whisper.
All present were exhilarated by the artistry of Damin Spritzer, who delivered a world-class performance!
But, here in Cowboy Country, we’ve become all too accustomed to hearing such quality art, thanks to organizations like FASO. The large cadre of aficionados and the artists they support plan to keep that way, so we can always say……
Keep Amarillo Artsy!
Keep Austin Weird!
Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!!