The concert organist is a rare and dying breed—and my original training. Organ is the precursor to synthesizers and the complex and multilayered sounds that are now easily accessible through technology.
When we organists were in the mainstream, we played in churches as disembodied angels, and for silent films, often horror. Just as we can feel distanced from loved ones, physically or emotionally, when I first played organ I felt a longing to connect more directly with the listeners. I thus attempted to change that listening perspective, leaning toward our humanity rather than playing as if from a distant loft. “Hearthfire” is one such example. It follows a simple ostinato pattern with variations, evoking this sense of longing but also abiding, no matter what the circumstance. It is named after a poem by Gary Diggins, which evocatively explores similar themes. One of the first times I played this piece, a teenager walked up to me to say how much she loved it. In her late twenties, this young woman died of cancer. I dedicate this piece to her.