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October Tour - 2003

I have visited Finland many times but never in the Autumn -- the weather was crisp and cool. Although it was a long journey from San Diego, it was well worth it!

My first concert was in Hmeenlinna, Sibelius' birthplace, at the beautiful two hundred year old church situated by the lake. The organ completed in 2003, in the style of Ladegast, was built by Georges Heintz (op.179) and sounded wonderful in the bell like acoustics . My second concert was on the 1995 Swedish organ built by kermund & Lund at the Kallio church in Helsinki. A fabulous recreation of French Romantic in this immense church. Interestingly, Jean Sibelius composed a wonderful melody for this Carillon. My third concert was in Kereva on the outskirts of the city of Helsinki and the organ was built by H. O. Paschen Orgelbaukie of 1993. Then a return visit to the Malmi Church in Helsinki to play on the Heinrich organ of 1983. My fourth concert was in the105 year old Lutheran Church in Kotka. The organ, completed in 1998, by Martti Porthn Oy is a marvelous recreation of Gottfried Silbermann's organ of 1714 for Freiberg Cathedral. The last concert was in the tourist attraction of Helsinki's Temppeliaukion Church built in 1969 -- always a difficult place to practice but a fascinating church carved out of the rock.

From Helsinki to Paris thanks to KLM to play at Notre-Dame Cathedral. I had two late night rehearsals and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. What an honor to play in a building where so much music has evolved. The acoustics are enormous and the action is very light. I had the real honor of sitting on Vierne's bench where he sadly died on June 2, 1937. It so happened that the bench was perfect for my height. Over a thousand people came to the concert.

In my free time, I visited La Madeleine for a Sunday morning service. Delacroix's apartment, which is now a delightful museum, where he lived while he was in charge of decorating the Chapel of the Holy Angels at St. Sulpice. I also visited the immense cemetery of Pre-Lachaise where Chopin amongst other famous people are buried. I happened to walk into St. Gervais, where Couperin played, and hear some glorious choral music. I attended a concert at Saint Eustache to hear Jean Guillou's music and himself playing -- this was quite a treat. Finally, to St. Denis to see and play the 1840 Cavaill-Coll. Pierre Pincemaille, who is playing in next year's Summer Organ Festival, is the organist and improvised for me as I stood back and could appreciate this famous instrument. The console says "Cavaille-Coll Pre et Fils 1840" and this was the all important organ that put Aristide on the map in Paris. It is very large instrument and is the first organ to have barker lever action. Not easy to play with its short compass and the console being in the heart of the case. But, what a sound! Truly a great monument to French organ building.