The American Guild of Organists’ Oklahoma City chapter is hosting a convention this week, and you’re invited. No, really!
“It’s composed of professors at universities, organists at churches, people who play the organ for fun, and some who don’t even play and just like listening to organ music,” said Tim Marek, coordinator of the organization’s Region VII, which includes Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and parts of other surrounding states. “It’s a time when organists from our Southwest region come together to hear artists, learn from workshops and grow professionally. We also let the public know what’s going on in the organ world.”
But it’s not just for people who already love the instrument.
“It’s a good way to publicize the organ and get it out there,” he said.
To that end, the “Wind & Fire” conference has scheduled several concerts that are free and open to the public, with donations encouraged.
Because organs and choirs are so interrelated, the region has a choral focus on the first day and over half of the convention. The Canterbury Choral Society will headline a concert 7:30 p.m. Sunday at All Souls Episcopal Church, 6400 N. Pennsylvania. The Richard Zielinski Singers will follow that up 9 a.m. Monday with a concert at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 3214 North Lake.
Then the organ concerts start in earnest.
“We programmed so that there would be a nice variety. Audiences can pick and choose what they like or come to all of them,” Marek said.
Improv kicks off the concerts Monday evening, as David Cherwien will shoot from the hip in interpret ing hymns 7:30 p.m. at Messiah Lutheran Church, 3600 Northwest Expressway.
“There’s a lot of audience participation. He improvises from the text; it’s spur of the moment,” Marek said, noting that the performances are interspersed with readings from the hymns. “They can be pretty impressive programs.”
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Susan Ferré presents “Stories from the Human Village: The Walled City of Gold” at the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor at Casady School, 9500 N. Pennsylvania. Ferre will tell stories while she plays.
“She weaves in a story to the music,” Marek said. “It’s unique to her, and very interesting.”
The last concert of the conference will feature Christopher Houlihan. Currently studying at Juilliard, the organist is only in his early 20s, yet already has a rock star-esque following.
“It’s a solid organ concert, nothing fancy about it,” Marek said. Houlihan, who already has two albums to his credit, will take to the pedals 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4400 N. Shartel, closing out the conference on a high note.
“Part of the fun of the convention is inviting the public and having them be a part of it,” Marek said.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, one day prior to the conference, the University of Oklahoma School of Music presents the American Organ Institute Showcase concert in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd in Norman. Tickets are $12. Call 325-4101 or visit aoi.ou.edu.