Organs Can Be Quite a Pipe Dream
Published: June 1, 2012
Organs Can Be Quite a Pipe Dream
By Veronica MacDonald Ditko
An Accidental Anthropologist
There is just something about organs. The way they seize you with that first note, commanding your attention with vibrations and airy songs. For me, there is something very comforting about pipe organs, as I have only heard them in places of worship or on very old merry-go-rounds.
And by worship, I don’t just mean Christian worship, although they are thought to have been introduced to religion through Pope Vitalian in the 7th century. But some Jewish synagogues also have organs.
I was lucky on my first trip to London that the organist at St. Martins in the Field was practicing when I walked by. My mother, sister, and I sat in silence as the centuries old building shook with age-old hymns. Later we had lunch in the underground crypt – quite an architectural sight if you’ve never seen it. You also can’t hear the hustle and bustle of Trafalgar Square right outside.
London is a bit far for most to go this summer, unless you happen to be attending the Olympics. Right down in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, the building called the Great Auditorium (hard to miss from the beach, tan with bright red trimmings) hosts regular organ concerts on Wednesdays and Saturdays, June through August. Visit http://www.oceangrove.org/pages/ORGAN_RECITALS11 for more info.
If you work in downtown Manhattan, the Trinity Wall Street Church will start up “Bach at One” again in October, where free concerts on Mondays at 1pm feature the voices of The Trinity Choir and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. Organ music often accompanies them. See http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/music/bach.
Even closer to home, there is a cable program called the “Joy of Music” hosted by Diane Bisch, a world-renowned organist. Here in Northern Jersey, it’s Channel 29 WFME. She travels the world to play organs. She is reportedly the first American woman to have recorded on the four organs of Freiburg Cathedral, Germany. Yes, I said four. Can you imagine how loud that was? Not bad for a little lady from Kansas.
I was in stitches when she brought her tiny pooch to a concert and the dog howled along with the organ. It seems organ music moves pets as well.
Whatever your taste in music, the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove is a sight to be seen and heard. It is the largest working organ in New Jersey (only the Convention Hall in Atlantic City eclipses it with 33,000 pipes but it is not currently functional). The Great Auditorium organ has 11,000 pipes whereas an organ at a local church might have 1000. It is a sight to behold, so why not combine it with sunbathing and fine dining too?
Veronica MacDonald Ditko is originally from the Jersey Shore, but married and settled in northern New Jersey. Her journalism career started a decade ago after studying Psychology and Anthropology in Massachusetts. She has written for several newspapers and magazines including The Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Springfield Union News and Sunday Republican, Happi, Chemical Week, The Hawthorne Press, The Jewish Standard, Suite101.com and more.
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