Season after Pentecost, 2023
In college I hosted the Organ Pump, a monthly midnight organ recital.
As we approached the famous "Halloween" Organ Pump at Oberlin College in 2002 with a brand new Fisk organ we knew we'd have a full house. Interest in the Organ Pump's homecoming to Finney Chapel, it's home since 1992, was high.
My organ professor, David Boe, was interested in the repertoire for the recital and had an idea about it.
"You know," he said one day, "Jack Kevorkian wrote a piece for the organ".
"Really?" a nerdy, overzealous, undergraduate (myself) replied.
"Yes," he said, "it might be fun to play it on the Organ Pump program, but it's not a very good piece."
As I recall he gave me the score a few days later. It was a fax of a few generations of photocopies, but still perfectly legible. The kind of thing that had been passed around organ academic circles for a while beginning in the days before email, I suppose.
It didn't really matter what it sounded like, did it? It was organ music by Jack Kevorkian! Sadly, I must have thrown this copy out with my music theory assignments later in the year (see?! being a pack rat can come in handy now and then!).
But as luck would have it, another self-professed "nerdy" undergraduate at the time was in the habit of recording these Organ Pumps. So, after nine years, I present to you a recording of the performance.
I can't remember if it really was an organ piece. Could I have been adapting this from a piano score? Kevorkian loved Bach, but this piece doesn't turn up anywhere on Google that I can find. I would be very grateful if anyone could point me to another copy (that I promise to take better care of).
And writing organ music on the theme BACH (the pitches B-flat, A, C, B-natural) has been a popular form of homage since the great composer left this earth.
It was a great homecoming Organ Pump that year. As I recall we had an audience of (estimating conservatively) 800 college students and one very kind, very mischievous organ professor.
Passacaglia on BACH
Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011)
David Sinden, organ
Finney Chapel, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
C. B. Fisk organ, Opus 116
recorded live 1 November 2002
Many thanks, Jonathan! Never expected to hear this again!
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