Thursday, August 9, 2012

Organ Concert

Tonight, Laurel and I attended an organ concert in St. Mary's Basilica.  The first difficulty was finding when the concert started.  The tourist booklet we picked up said 7PM, but the tickets had 8PM hand-written on them.  We checked several websites and they all seemed to agree, 8PM was the time to start; we figured the tourist booklet was out of date, since it had several months' worth of events. We decided to prudently show up a little early to the concert.  It's a good thing we did.  It had started at 7:30 PM.

So there we are, a couple of Americans being carefully and quietly let in to an old, European cathedral with beautiful, booming organ music playing.  Other than the music, it is silent.  There are no children.  No one is whispering.  No one is coughing.  Now is a good time to mention Laurel's footwear, which is what I, in my male-ignorance, refer to as "clicky shoes."  Old churches have no carpet; the floor is stone.  Of course there are no open seats near the back.  So we slowly, and with many clicks, advance to an empty pew about 2/3 of the way to the front.  The reason this pew was empty was that it has an uncomfortable distance for one's knees, especially when the kneeling rail is considered.

OK, enough about the difficulties of getting a seat: the music was awesome.  This was one of those organs where (when the music calls for it) you can feel the bass through your seat.  There must have been many, many keyboards on this organ.  I know there is some theoretical maximum size of a chord for one human, but I think it was reached many times in this concert. The old church lets the notes just hang in the air after the organist has finished.

The other attendees understood that these notes needed to hang in the air and dissipate on their own time before applause could begin.  The organist was called back from his perch at the back of the church three times for applause, and gave two encores.  Laurel and I, being new to the Polish classical concert scene, weren't really sure how long this would last.  Fortunately, it seemed the audience only had patience for two encores, which was fine with us.

Overall, it was a very neat experience to hear this beautiful music played by an accomplished musician in this setting.  I tried to find a link in English to the event, but this is the best I could do.  Here is a link to the concert description in Polish, but Google can translate it for you if needed.


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