Small World   1 comment

In past years the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists has toured the instruments at such places as Disney Hall, or the Westwood area – a day that is interesting and fun, both for the music and the camaraderie!

Though I was ill, I went anyway. This year was no exception, as we toured instruments in two churches and the chapel at Whittier College.

Whittier is a charming little town, first settled in 1887 and named for the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, and indeed had a large Quaker population for generations.

We heard lots of great social history: food writer M.F.K. Fisher grew up there, as did Herbert Hoover’s spouse – but its most famous (or infamous) native son is Richard Nixon, who was born in nearby Yorba Linda but lived in Whittier and attended the town’s high school and Whittier College (mascot – “The Poet”). Nominally a Quaker, he also studied piano at the college.

The writer Jessamyn West, a second cousin of Nixon, also grew up there and attended a Sunday-school class taught by Richard’s father, Frank.

But the best part of the day was the music.

Pieces by Whittier composers Williametta Spencer, Orpha Ochse, and Neil Stipp (currently College Organist at Whittier) gave us not just the expected solos, but also a little choral music, and music for organ with other instruments..

The most intriguing music for me was a flute/organ piece by Ochse, an excellent new and prize-winning anthem by Stipp and a partita for English horn and organ by the Dutch composer Jan Koetsier – some of the best organ/instrument writing I’ve ever heard, played on an organ ideally suited for its clean, dry style.

The organ was a full partner rather than the accompaniment, making the pieces really duets – not always the case with such writing.

At the final concert in the First Friends Church, I saw a familiar-looking hymnal, took it out, and saw it contains my hymn tune Thomas Merton (679 in the Episcopal hymnal, “Surely it is God who saves me” if you haven’t got the numbers memorized yet).

This tune has been reprinted in two or three denominational hymnals and supplements both here and in Japan, but I was not aware that a Quaker church was using one of them!

Small world!

Posted March 15, 2011 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

One response to “Small World

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  1. Thaanks for sharing youur info. I really appreciate your efforts aand I will be waiting for
    your next poet thnk youu once again.

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