Joe Vitacco unexpectedly had access to the magnificent Fisk/Rosales Organ at Rice University during a recent visit. He sat at the organ playing a hymn. Joe had not learned any music or played a pipe organ for many years. Normally when doing a recording there is little time for the recording engineer/producer to get on the organ bench. Ken Cowan had left Joe in the Edythe Bates Old Organ Hall at Rice University for a few hours with the organ staring at him. Ken was practicing on one of the small practice organs at Rice for a video they were recording. Ken Cowan, ever since Joe has known him, practices and practices his music, even when he has long ago mastered and memorized the work.
With Ken warming up for the recording, Joe knew he would have some time at the Fisk / Rosales Organ to learn a hymn. So, Joe figured what the heck and grabbed a hymnal. He opened to a simple but good hymn and slowly worked out playing a hymn. Everything Craig Cramer had taught him 20+ years ago popped into his head. With all of the organs Joe has recorded around the world he does lament he never just sat and played.
But, he always knew listening to the resident organists play was a better use of the limited time he had with famous pipe organs that he might never hear in person again. Why you ask? These organist know their instruments.
Sitting at the console you rarely can hear what an organ really sounds like, you need to hear it in the room. The sound of the organ in most places goes straight over your head and what you hear is not an accurate representation of the organ.
The hymn Joe Vitacco plays in this video is “O Sacred Head, now wounded”, it is based on an old and long Latin poem, Salve mundi salutare. Sit back and enjoy listening to Joe Vitacco play J.S. Bach’s magnificent harmonization. Joe says he is happy to accept an alternative pedaling for the hymn.
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