My introduction to the organ came at a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are from a pizza place my grandparents took me to on the week ends. The Captains Galley had a 4 manual 26 rank theatre organ, which I thought was the greatest thing in the world. I can still remember the feeling of the sound waves penetrating everything in the room, and the bass making the tables, as well and my insides, shake.
For the next several years I became more fascinated with the instrument. I became familiar with the organ repertoire as well as various building styles or genres. Finally in 1991 I decided to learn to play. I was a little disappointed that the teacher I chose said I had to learn the piano first, but I was dedicated. And for the next 2 years I studied and practiced at the piano. It wasn't long before I got a little Baldwin spinet organ. I'm sure I terrorized my parents and the neighbors with The Phantom of the Opera overture on countless occasions. Pretty soon I out grew that instrument and needed something bigger. So after working many hours after school in the food service industry, I managed to save up enough to get a performance level Baldwin theatre organ. It came with all the bells and whistles, literally.
During my senior year of high school, I practiced very hard learning more music to present at recital. Until this point I was yet to give my first solo concert. I presented my first recital at the Herrin Civic center in Herrin, Illinois to a capacity crowd that over-flowed to standing room only. This first recital was preparation for my next recital for which I played one of the daily concerts at then Lord & Taylor department store in Philadelphia which houses the Wanamaker organ which is the largest pipe organ in the world.
It was during the summer after my freshman year at the state university that the idea of creating music as I do now was first introduced to me. I was using my Uncle�s MIDI studio to create an orchestral arrangement of Gigout�s Toccata. When it was completed, Uncle Rick said, �Wow! Wouldn�t it be great if you could play that MIDI arrangement back on a pipe organ?� (i.e. spread the parts across all organ manuals in a way not possible for a single person to play). At the time, organs equipped with MIDI capability were few and far between. It was nine years later, in 2005, that I had my first opportunity to actually do it.
The process of creating these organ arrangements is not an easy one. First: the entire orchestral score is faithfully recreated in the computer using music notation software, and then output to another MIDI sequencing application. Second: the orchestral parts are assigned to organ manuals, and every note properly articulated �by hand.� Third: my interpretation of the score is more fully applied to the music. Tempos, accelerandos, fermatas, and rubato (among others things) are added and realized. Finally: the completed arrangement is taken to the organ, played via MIDI, and registered or �orchestrated.� The entire process can take several weeks to several months depending on the complexity of the piece.
To me creating music is a deeply personal experience. It's not a profession, wealth seeking, or reputation building endeavor. Every piece of music I arrange I have taken something from and stored as a personal treasure. It's sometimes a feeling, a memory of another time, or a gateway to another mode of experience. I share my music through the form of audio recordings simply for my own need to communicate... to those who may want to listen.