If we are fortunate enough, we find or are found by special people who help us along on our journey. I wish to acknowledge my very special people...
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When in prep school in Bronxville NY, I wanted desperately to study the organ, but the powers that be refused me. So, after doing my research, I rode the train into Manhattan, took the subway uptown, walked into the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and said to Charles Dodsley Walker "teach me".
And for almost four years, every other week, we had a lesson filled wih challenge, imagination, and lots of creative music making. None of this "do what I say because I said it" bumf. Listen, challenge, think, explore, listen.
Thank you, Charles. I'm still listening...
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After I graduated from Westminster Choir Collge, and had worked for one or two organ builders, I found myself unemployed. A friend said I should call this fellow who went around voicing organs. And so I made contact with Allan Van Zoeren, which led to five years of going around and voicing organs and learning. Allan was a true master of the American/Dutch neo-classic style. His organs were clean and clear, precisely balanced, and never screamed.
I asked him early on how I could learn about tonal matters. He replied: "When you hear a stop that you like, go find out why you like it. Look at the pipes, measure them. Listen to them. They will tell you. And if you hear a stop that you truly dislike, go find out why..."
Thank you, Allan. I am still finding out why...
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I had heard about him when I younger, and his name was Walter then. Switched On Bach was his entree to fame. Then I heard that he was really she: "Walter" had been a way to "make it" in what then was a man's world. The image stuck with me and I secretly admired her. I actually wrote to her once, and she actually responded.
When I decided to reveal my true self, I thought of her audacity and it helped to sustain me.
Thank you, Wendy Carlos, for your inspiration and courage. I still draw on your example every day...
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Without these special people I would not be what I am today.
I hope I can do for someone what each of you have done for me.