Yale Symphony Orchestra
From the collection of Kerry Fowler ’73, PhD ’78
March 30, 1971 - Lyon
In Paris and Clermont Ferrand, the orchestra rented an electronic organ of decent size and with enough "reverb" that I could play my part in the Ives 4th and the Scriabin. But for some reason, they didn't bring it to Lyon, possibly because there was a pipe organ in the Salle Rameau. However, we discovered that "visiting organists" were not allowed to play it! John Mauceri tried to convince them that I was quite capable, but they were adamant. So we rented a Farfisa Compact, a "combo" organ (as in jazz combo), which was about 4 feet across, with a 3-octave keyboard, no pedals, 4 "voices" (flute, oboe, trumpet, strings), and many options for vibrato. It was about as far from the Woolsey Hall organ as one could imagine. John excused me from playing the Scriabin, where no one would notice my absence in the noisy ending, but the organ plays through much of the 3rd movement of the Ives, including one measure, JUST ONE, where there is a solo for the organ, so I had to play it. They sat me on stage behind the cellos, and everyone in the orchestra stared in wonder at this thing. At the rehearsal, the fatal moment arrived and I played the solo. It was just as horrible as you might imagine. The whole orchestra broke out in laughter. Cellists dropped their bows. It stopped the rehearsal. For fun, I turned on ALL the vibratos and played it again, in full-on soap-opera mode.
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