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July 28, 2021 | #116 Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square

Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is streamed online every Wednesday at 12:00 noon MDT. Piping Up! can be viewed on TheTabernacleChoir.org, the Choir’s YouTube channel, the Choir’s Facebook page, and Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. When concerts are concluded, they are available for on-demand viewing on the Choir’s website, YouTube and Facebook.

These programs continue the tradition of noon organ recitals at Temple Square—a tradition that has lasted for more than a century. The concerts are produced without an audience and comply with all COVID-19 guidelines. Each concert will feature a different Tabernacle or Temple Square organist and is hosted by Luke Howard.

Repertoire

Organists: John Longhurst & Clay Christiansen

Opening Theme. Meditation on a Theme by Alexander Schreiner (excerpt) JL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Darwin Wolford
1. Maestoso in C# Minor, from Messe Solennelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Vierne
2. Thy Spirit, Lord, Has Stirred Our Souls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexander Schreiner
3. Hunting Horn Scherzo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexander Schreiner
4. Lyric Interlude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexander Schreiner
5. O My Father. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James McGranahan
6. O Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Alexander Schreiner
7. Schreiner plays Mendelssohn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Closing Theme. Meditation on a Theme by Alexander Schreiner (excerpt) CC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Darwin Wolford

LISTENER REQUESTED SELECTION Go to the Piping Up! web page to make your request!

Focus Piece

An on-going feature of Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is a focus piece with additional inspirational background on a specific repertoire selection. Written by host Luke Howard, a professor of music at Brigham Young University, the focus piece connects the music in a unique way to lift and inspire listeners.

“Allegro assai vivace” from Organ Sonata No. 1, Op. 65, No. 1 (Mendelssohn)

Sometimes it’s not immediately apparent how much discipline, training, and determination lies behind the seemingly effortless virtuosity of genius. There’s a popular story, probably apocryphal, about the renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso that illustrates this principal. One version of the story goes something like this—Picasso was dining in a restaurant, and began doodling absentmindedly on a napkin. One of the other diners, recognizing the world-famous artist, approached Picasso and asked if she might have that napkin, which otherwise would’ve been picked up by the wait staff and probably thrown away. Picasso replied, “Certainly, for 40,000 francs.” The customer protested, “But it took you only a few minutes!” Picasso replied, “No, madam. It took a lifetime.”

So it was with Alexander Schreiner. Audiences marveled at his playing, his skill at improvisation, the facility of his technique, and his complete artistry. It was as if he could make the organ do anything he wished it to, and what he wished it to do was always perfect and right in the moment. In 1926, after Schreiner completed his studies in France, Louis Vierne wrote an enthusiastic letter of recommendation that effused about Schreiner’s “effortless mastery” of technique, his “perfect musicianship” and “eminently artistic nature.” He predicted that Schreiner would enjoy “an enviable place among virtuosos” and “make a great impression on the public.”1 And, of course, all that was true.

But most people outside of Schreiner’s circle didn’t see the thousands of hours of practice, the multiple jobs playing the organ at churches, movie theatres, department stores, and campuses across the United States, in order to pay bills and repay debts. For nine years, Schreiner divided his time between summers in Utah performing in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and winters at UCLA, where he gave recitals and taught music classes to the college students there.

Even though he had taught music at university, Alex Schreiner hadn’t completed any formal college coursework himself. So, when he started full-time work as a Tabernacle Organist in 1939, he also started his own university studies, earning his bachelor’s degree just before his 41st birthday. He was in his early fifties when he received his doctorate. Throughout his career, Schreiner never stopped learning, never ceased from the largely unseen diligent work of practice. And because of that, a particular gesture at the organ, a flourish, a spectacular musical moment could come off so naturally. It wasn’t created in that moment, though—it was the accumulated work of a lifetime.

Few of us will ever be able to paint like a Picasso, or play the organ like Alexander Schreiner. But in our own spheres, whatever they may be, we can also strive for the same level of excellence and edification. When we “commit our works unto the Lord,” as Schreiner did, then God promises our lifetimes of diligent effort will accumulate and our thoughts, our goals, our aspirations will become, as the King James Version puts it, “established.”2 We will arrive at the point where doing good becomes second nature (or, more accurately, our truer, divine nature). We can become virtuosos of virtue. And, like Picasso’s napkin, those seemingly small acts of compassion and service to others will, indeed, be of tremendous value, though in this case, beyond price.

We’ll see the fruits of Alexander Schreiner’s lifetime of hard work and practice now as we rebroadcast for you archival footage of Schreiner at the Tabernacle Organ playing the final movement, “Allegro assai vivace,” from the Organ Sonata No. 1, by Felix Mendelssohn. 

  1. Quoted from an unpublished biographical sketch of Alexander Schreiner by John Longhurst.
  2. See Proverbs 16:3.