Getting Acquainted

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to check out this blog. I’m very excited about the possibilities of our little ‘ward organist community’ and I’m glad you have taken time to check it out.

Second, I am very anxious to get to know other LDS organists throughout the world, but am getting the sense that people are just a little shy about jumping up and letting the world know who they are. I understand that feeling.

So today I am being bold (but hopefully not overbearing!) and sharing excerpts from my recent interview with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Perhaps this will give you the little nudge that you need to share some of your thoughts, questions or comments on our Group Discussion page.

Florence Hawkinson

Will you tell us a little about yourself? I am a member of the Utah Valley Chapter AGO and the creator of Pedal Points—an online forum for LDS organists. I have lived in Utah for over 25 years, but still claim Pittsburgh as my hometown.

Are you currently an organist at a church/parish? I just stepped down from my position as organist at Orem Community Church and am now serving as organist in the Provo Peak 3rd ward, a local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon).

How do you pick worship music? I am given the topics of upcoming sermons and look for hymns that support the theme. I consider the meter, rhythm, length, key and general mood of the hymns and other music and try to create a reasonable balance and flow to the service. And to be perfectly honest, I am influenced by the reality of limited practice time—at times favoring one piece over another because of technical issues.

How long have you been playing organ? About six years. Starting organ lessons at age 45 I was a bit of a late bloomer, I suppose. :)

Do you play any other instruments? Yes. Piano (of course!) and guitar.

What do you do in your spare time? Spare time?!? Do you mean when I’m not playing the organ or at my full-time job as an architectural designer/drafter? In those rare moments of spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, biking and spending time with my husband.

What is your favorite vacation spot? San Francisco. I love fog. And we don’t get a lot of fog in the Utah desert! Also, my sister lives there and always makes sure I have a new organ to explore when I visit her.

What is your favorite Bach piece? Prelude and Fugue in G major (BWV 541). My first organ teacher introduced me to organ music by taking me to an all-Bach organ recital presented by Dr. Douglas Bush. It was a difficult time in my life as I was still grieving the death of my mother. Though all of the music I heard that evening did much to soothe my spirit, when Dr. Bush played the fugue, my heart felt alive and filled with joy for the first time in nearly two years. Every time I hear that piece I remember the healing that came to me that evening.

If you had to pick one composer in the world to meet (dead or alive), who would it be? Wow, there are so many wonderful composers…why do you ask such hard questions?

What are some of your favorite things about being a member of the AGO Utah Valley Chapter? The friendship and support of fellow chapter members. The opportunity to get together with other ‘organ geeks’ to learn and share our common interest. I especially appreciate the way the more experienced members have always treated me with respect and have encouraged me in my musical endeavors.

Now click here. It’s your turn to share!

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