The American Guild of Organists is holding their biennial meeting in Washington, DC this week. If you want to hear the music, you have to go to where the organs are, and that means a lot of churches are having a lot of recitals this week.
The Washington Post reports:
Washington's churches are ringing all week with organ recitals by more than 20 soloists from around the world -- a roster curated by the local chapters of the AGO (unfortunately, almost all of the offerings are closed to the public). At various times on Monday and Tuesday, the brand-new Lively-Fulcher organ at St. John's at Lafayette Square offered a recital with the unlikely combination of organ and harp (Jean-Baptiste Robin and Elizabeth Blakeslee); the final round of an improvisation competition was held on the Schoenstein organ at St. Paul's on K Street; and the Aeolian-Skinner organ at National Presbyterian thundered with three large-scale works, including a Passacaglia from Leo Sowerby's Symphony for Organ that Jonathan Biggers, the soloist, described as sounding like "the Queen Mary II rolling into the nave...."
...For the person playing it, the organ is often a solitary pleasure, and it's certainly a solitary job. Few churches have more than one organist; few other institutions employ organists at all. The organ convention is therefore a rare chance to talk shop with colleagues or engage with concerns specific to the job....
...for many, hearing the Washington Cathedral organ was a highlight of the week. The instrument certainly has its foibles, and cathedral officials have spoken of replacing it, but among organists it remains a source of national pride. Larry Sharp, an orthodontist from Winchester, Ky., who describes himself as a hobby organist despite holding a weekly church job, said he always makes sure to tune in when events in the cathedral are televised -- for instance, Ronald Reagan's funeral -- so he can hear more of the organ. "It's got more presence than it does on TV," he said.
The closing concert of the convention is open to the public: At 8 p.m. Thursday, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Renée Anne Louprette will perform a recital including the world premiere of a piece composed for the convention. The concert will begin with several pieces on the basilica's carillon.