Renowned Organist and University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor Dr. Damin Spritzer has released her fifth CD website link Rhapsodies & Elegies: English Romantic Organ Music, it is absolutely enchanting, timeless, and has a brilliant enthusiastic expression of feeling that comes through with each track. To help celebrate the release I had an inspired conversation with Damin:
buy viagra online ebay Love the title of the new album Rhapsodies & Elegies: English Romantic Organ Music how did you decide on it? We thought about some more creative titles, but in the end, decided just to stay with the most simple one that directly described the music. Part of what I love about this genre of organ compositions is that even though the titles are the same, each piece is dramatically different and unique.
What was it like being the first American woman to record at the Hereford Cathedral? Firstly, it was completely unintentional, but that said, it gives me pause in this day and age when so many incredible people have achieved so much, and there are so many important firsts and seconds and accomplishments throughout the world. I did not realize that I might be the first until I was deep into my research about the powerful and beautiful history of Hereford, which has had some of the most important past and present musicians of all time affiliated with the cathedral. It was a very unintentional first! Their recorded history of music goes all the way back to the 1600’s!
The Henry Willis Organ you use on for this album is from 1892, did you feel transported in time when playing it? It was one of the most beautiful instruments that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and hearing and playing. It is really a window into the past as well as a vital part of the present-day cathedral, and the builder, “Fr.” Henry Willis, built such beautiful instruments that shaped the music being written at the time as well as now. YES, I felt completely transported in time. 🙂 It was not hard to imagine Elgar in the church, for example. Their history is incredible.
What drew you to the pipe organ? I am profoundly moved by the vast history of the organ and the sheer power and beauty of the sound, as well as the incredible variety of instruments and music written for it. Nearly every organ is unique, as are the buildings in which they are found, so that makes me feel like I am always discovering something new each time I have the opportunity to play a different instrument.
Any other instruments do you play? I play violin and piano and I sing. But I do love the organ most of all.
What was the first song you learned for the pipe organ? The very first? It will make everyone laugh, but truthfully it was the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, attributed to J. S. Bach. The famous one. Even though so much about the true origins of that piece are unknown, it’s still just so beautiful, and exciting to play.
Insights on your creative process? Always do the thing you fear the most. My projects for recording are driven by my teaching research as well as my personal love for the music or the era. I work very hard to confront my fears, and to prepare and play as deeply and authentically as I personally can. I take no performance or opportunity or piece of music for granted. I’m not a note-perfect player, but I believe that I am authentically and deeply expressive, and I take great pleasure in the scholarship associated with preparing the music of any given composer or for any particular organ. I want to connect with the people who are willing to listen to me play, and I want to share the experience with them and convey both my love for the music as well as my gratitude for their time.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? I wouldn’t say there is hidden meaning, but there are often associations for some music with times and places and experiences and people and emotions, and those can be very powerful and quite personal. But sometimes, the music is just beautiful and is beauty for its own sake.
Do you collaborate with others when making an album? What is that process? I certainly do – it takes the ears and knowledge of my sound engineer (Christoph Frommen), as well as the belief and support from the record label (William Van Pelt for Raven) that the project is sound and worth pursuing, and the permission of any given institution that has an instrument appropriate for the project, and the builders and technicians who maintain the instrument and facilities. I do the research and preparation myself over months and years, but there are a number of other people involved. I am also grateful for the understanding and accommodation of the university where I teach, to allow me to pursue these projects that are outside of my teaching, because teaching and service to the university and the student’s needs to be my first priority. But these recording projects bring me such deep joy. Years of planning and saving and preparation go into each one, and they are deeply meaningful to me and I am intensely grateful for the opportunities.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety? I do, each and every time I perform. I love to perform, but yes, there is always anxiety and focus and a sharp sense of responsibility for trying to provide a beautiful and meaningful performance for the listeners, as well as to do honor to the music and the instrument.
What are your favorite performance venues? Oh, there are SO many exquisite organs in exquisite rooms! I would be loath to only list a few, they are all so unique. I will say that the instruments that are often the most satisfying are the ones in which the space is acoustically wonderful, too. The best instruments are in the best rooms, with a generous (or even lavish!) acoustic that allows the tones and sound to breathe and bloom and flourish. Working within a great acoustic adds a tremendously beautiful and satisfying depth to the instrument and the music.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? Study, keep practicing, believe in yourself, and find a teacher you respect that supports you as an individual and believes in you and connects with you. Listen and learn from history and the greats, but be willing to pursue an unknown avenue, too. And always, always be kind to your colleagues!
How long have you been teaching music? In various capacities, since I was in high school. As a private teacher and also as a church organist and choral director and in the past several years, university professor. I love to teach, and I am so grateful for the students who are willing to share their study experience with me and with my colleagues at OU.
Tour and performance dates for 2019 and beyond? I’m very excited about some of them! I have some wonderful performances in the states, I play in England this October at Wells Cathedral, and I’ll play my first recital at Notre Dame in Paris in 2020 as well as recitals in Belgium and Germany next year. I’m looking forward to performing for some conventions this summer as well as attending other conferences to support my colleagues, and I am hard at work planning the next recording project, which is too fresh to say more about, but for which I am quite hopeful!
How can readers follow you on social media and see your performances live? I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud as me, and I keep my website updated with events (www.daminspritzer.com). I’m on Twitter but I don’t seem to use it much yet! All five of my CD’s can be found at RavenCD.com and also on Amazon, and there are YouTube concerts from time to time are available either as livestream or archived.