The Heissler Organ Concert Series, held annually at St. Petersburg College, is always a treat to attend. Now in its tenth season, the concert series features outstanding organists from all over the world. David Enlow, who performed in the first concert of the series this year, is no exception.
Enlow is a returning artist to the series, who received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School in New York City. He is now on faculty at the Julliard School, and is also the choirmaster and organist at Church of the Resurrection in Manhattan. Enlow gave a wonderfully varied performance of repertoire spanning from J.S. Bach to Louis Vierne, and covering a multitude of styles.
Enlow, Canadian by birth and now a US resident, was kind enough to give a small interview before his performance. I had just a few questions for the Juilliard Faculty member. My first was an obvious question. Just how had Mr. Enlow come across and settled on the organ?
“Well,” he replied as we sat comfortably in the greenroom, “I started on piano, and when I was 12 or 13, my family’s church had a new organ built. There were all sorts of events and competitions being held for it, and I thought it looked more fun than the piano, and that was it!”
I also found out that Enlow’s collection of favorite organ works to play are largely dominated by works of French Romantic composers such as Franck, but he did state, with a chuckle, that he does “equal damage to all of his repertoire.” In following with that statement, when asked what the most important piece of advice he would give to young music students, Enlow pondered for a moment before imparting this wisdom: “Be open and learn as much as possible before restricting oneself to any one kind of music.”
Following the interview, Enlow gave a marvelous concert. The articulation of each piece, combined with the wonderful clear quality of the Heissler organ, made for a stellar performance in the space of the Music Center. Unusual in the repertoire selection for the evening was a piece written by Ludwig van Beethoven for the flute clock. Known to the general public as “cuckoo clocks”, these small amusing timekeepers-turned-instruments were favored by the German and Austrian nobility within Beethoven’s lifetime, and they would commission composers to write small musical pieces for the clocks to play. Most of these pieces were charming and light in quality, and the delightful Fünf Stücke für Flötenuhr ( WoO 33) fit perfectly into those qualities. It made exquisite use of the Heissler’s lighter stops and the seldom-heard cymbelstern, a device built into the organ that provides tinkling randomized chimes to supplement lighter, more whimsical pieces.
Other pieces included an auspicious opening number, J.S. Bach’s Toccata in F Major (BWV 540), which was again perfectly suited to the Heissler, and Mozart’s Fantasy in F Minor (K.594), which is traditionally played by a symphony orchestra, but was transcribed for organ in an impressive arrangement. Enlow’s closing piece was the famous Carillon de Westminster (Pieces de Fantasie) by Louis Vierne. On the Heissler, the famous piece got something of a makeover as every note was heard very clearly, and after the rendition, Mr. Enlow was cheered on to an encore. His encore choice was intriguing, opting with another Vierne piece, Toccata in B-flat minor, and it was a sparkling rendition of the impressive, fast-paced piece.
All told, the Heissler Concert Series this season opened with a wonderfully talented artist, per usual. All organ-enthusiasts can do now is wait with baited breath for the next performer, Michael Hey, the first student to be asked to play in the series, who will give his concert on February 10, 2012.