But the recital wasn't for organ. Rather, Tate Addis played five major pieces on the piano -- one my Mozart, two by Chopin, one by Liszt and one by Bartok.
Look, I'm not a trained musician. In my family, that title fell to my oldest sister, who is a Juilliard pipe organ graduate. But I certainly know what music moves me, and Tate's recital was simply stunning.
What especially struck me -- particularly in his performance of Polish native Frederic (sometimes Fryderyk) Chopin's "Deux Nocturnes," was the way in which he became one with the music and the way in which the music evoked in me memories of being in Poland in 2007 when I was doing interviews for my new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust.
For me, Chopin (1810-1849) was living in a Poland full of shtetls, or small Jewish towns. It was a Poland struggling to find its place in a world moving by fits and starts toward modernity. In the midst of all that and more, Chopin was creating poetic piano music that spoke of the human heart and of what the heart must overcome to thrive.
Watching Tate, I was again astonished at the capacity of the human brain. I have no idea how many notes Tate played in a bit less than two hours, but it must have been hundreds of thousands -- all from memory. Somewhere in his brain a tape was running that told his finger what they must do to recreate the sounds Chopin (and the other composers) may have had in mind when they wrote their music. But it wasn't just a rote memorization exercise. It was also adding Tate's own style and interpretation to the mix as he went along, and as he had practiced it.
In some ways this is why I shy away from the term "intelligent design." It seems far too static to me, as though the process of design was a once and for all event. No, no. Design goes on and on. And I bet that when Tate started practicing some of these pieces, he was unable to make his fingers do exactly what he wanted them to do to produce the sounds he sought. So he worked at it over and over until, in effect, he changed those fingers -- redesigned them -- so they could perform better and created new pathways in his brain for the instructions to get to the fingers.
Well, my church is blessed to have this wonderful musician on our staff -- and doubly blessed to have a newly restored and fabulous-sounding organ for him to play. Even if you have no interest in our church or any church, you might do yourself a favor some Sunday morning and just attend a service to hear the organ. Or put April 10, 2010, on your calendar. A big pipe organ contest will be held at our church that day.
And if you want to hear some of the Chopin piece that Tate played the other night -- but by a different performer I found on YouTube -- click here.
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AN ISLAMIC PLACE OF TRUE SCHOLARSHIP
What's this? An Islamic university in Pakistan so scholarly and reasonable and moderate that even the Taliban is attacking it? Exactly, says this writer and history professor who spoke there in 2007. It's another example of why it's wrong to describe even places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as unmitigated sources of nothing but terror.