I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible musicians over the past several months. I have met some teenage organists whose skill and calm poise on the big stage at Merrill Auditorium was not only impressive, but also made me recall with chagrin my own trepidation in front of much smaller audiences as a piano student at their age. Two local organists played a duet during Kotzschmar Organ Day that featured a whole section played only by their four feet, which wowed me at the time and still does, many months later. I have met veteran performers who bring their music to instruments around the globe, and their enthusiasm and praise for the Kotzschmar has been both heartwarming to hear and an affirming reminder of how lucky we are to have this instrument in our city.
I have also learned so very much since joining FOKO. A lot of what I have learned is thanks to Mr. Ray Cornils, who, in addition to being a wonderful musician, is a patient and enthusiastic educator. He has told me the names and stories of some of Portland’s past Municipal Organists, and I was pleasantly surprised when I recognized the name of Edwin Lemare (Portland’s Municipal Organist from 1921-1923), who had been mentioned as a composer in some of my previous musical studies. Ray’s knowledge of all that this organ has been through – expansions and alterations, repairs and renovation, good times and bad – has been fascinating and inspiring. As I think about all that this instrument has been through, and all of the people who have championed its cause from its installation in 1912 up until now, I feel a sense of pride in what has been accomplished, and a sense of excitement for what is yet to come.
I hope that you can experience this wonderful instrument for yourself and can join us for our upcoming concerts. December 19th will mark Ray’s 28th performance of his Christmas with Cornils program, and will be his final performance as Portland’s 10th Municipal Organist. We invite you to come back on April 18th to meet our 11th Municipal Organist, Mr. James Kennerley, as he gives his Portland debut concert. We will have many more concerts to announce in the upcoming months, and hope to see you soon at Merrill Auditorium!
With warm wishes,