Concert Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Heidi Bender

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May 19, 2014

7 ways to find a pipe organ concert in your area

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, San Diego, CA

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, San Diego, CA.
Photo by Ian. D. Keating (Creative Commons License)

I have written many posts about pipe organ concerts that I have attended. If you would like to go to a concert, here are some tips for finding concerts in your area.

1. The American Guild of Organists

Over 300 cities in the United States have a chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). To find the chapter nearest to you look at the AGO chapter list. Most chapters will have a website and include an event listing. Most chapters cover the surrounding region and may have events in nearby towns.

2. College and universities

College and universities in your area may have a pipe organ program. If they have a program, the students are likely required to give recitals. Look for the music department’s website for an event listing. For an example, look at the University of Michigan’s organ recital list.

3. Check the local newspaper

Local churches may advertise for concerts that they are having in the local newspaper. I learned of the last concert that I attended because my mom read about it our local paper

4. Watch Dr. Carol Williams plays the Spreckels pipe organ online

If you can’t find any concerts with in driving distance* watch Dr. Carol Williams plays the Spreckels organ in San Diego, CA at 2:00 PM PST most Sundays. The concert is streamed live on UStream for free. This pipe organ is outdoors at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (pictured above). If you live near San Diego visit the park and enjoy the concert.

5. If you are in the UK,

If you live in or near the United Kingdom, appears to be an excellent resource. The site already has over 2,000 recitals listed for 2014.

6. Look on the website of  your favorite organist

Check the website of your favorite organists. See when they will be performing at a location within driving distance* of your location. For example, Stephen Tharp, Paul Jacobs, and Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc. (representing many organists). Their websites list upcoming concerts.

7. Go to church

Attend a church service that uses the pipe organ for their music. Every service can feel like a mini-organ concert especially if the organist plays a prelude and postlude!

Thank you to long time reader, Mark, for giving me the idea to write this post. If  you use or have used any of these ways to find a pipe organ concert, leave a comment which can serve as success story!

*Reasonable driving distance to be determined by each person. Some may only want to attend events within their city while others could be willing to drive 1 or 2 hours or more!

The most important lesson learned

g To Someone Else's Middle

I learned an important lesson at the American Guild of Organists (AGO) convention. There is a story leading up to it.

The concert on Tuesday evening was at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo. Another concert earlier in the week was also at this church. For a different perspective, I decided to sit in the balcony. This is where I met Ellen. During intermission, Ellen shared that she had a blog. I felt excited to meet another organist that blogs! Her blog is and I encourage you to check it out. When Ellen was 57 she set a goal to play 60 pipe organs before she turned 60. And she did it! Her blog documents her adventure. And like me, Ellen learned to play the organ as an older adult. She was her 50’s with many years experience on the piano and is still a piano teacher.

Lesson LearnedOn Wednesday, the convention was in Battle Creek, MI. Dinner was a buffet at one of the churches. When I was in the buffet line, Ellen recognized me, joined me and we decided to dine together along with a few others. Ellen and I talked more about how we got to where we are now. I shared that I had anxiety around meeting the young organists currently in college or university. They are much farther along in their abilities than me. Ellen’s words of wisdom: “Their journey is not my journey” and that is the lesson that I learned.

I should not compare myself to them. I can’t go back in time and ask my parents to provide me with organ lessons as a child. Back then, I didn’t even know I wanted to be an organist. Those in their early twenties earning degrees should be better than me. That seems logical now as they have been practicing for many more years than I have. And as Jon Acuff says “Don’t Compare your middle to someone’s middle”. Comparing ourselves to others is rarely beneficial.

Is this lesson for you too? Do you need to stop comparing yourself to others in a different phase of their journey?