The link at the foot of this page will take you to the SoundCloud page of Michael Spacie. Michael has recorded some music on the organ using the Rodgers 928 Trillium Masterpiece 3-Manual Digital Organ which is installed in the liturgical south choir of Rotherham Minster. Michael is a long-standing ‘Associate Organist’ of Rotherham Minster but not the Organist-in-Residence/Director of Music. He has played the organ at the Minster for his own amusement over many years as well as for the occasional service including a major festival service where his playing was enjoyed, the organ being used to its full capacity with a large congregation present. An ‘Associate Organist’ can be thought of in terms of enhancing people’s lives through music whether through playing the organ for an occasional service at the Minster, or members of the public who by chance happen to be in the Minster at a time the organ is being played on a weekday, or more generally the physical edifice by having affinity with the deep historic and spirituality of the building: there is something special about having the musical ability in a very large building to bounce sound off the walls, have the woodwork creak and the musically powerful feeling as if the whole building is lifting skyward! Michael’s playing reflects more of a profundity of spiritual presence and energy rather than anything overtly or purely religious, both in essence and in sound and colour.
Michael has intentionally recorded music in various styles to suit most musical tastes, interests and persuasions – all of which can be heard in the Cloud on the link below. Michael has also recorded some piano music using the piano in his home teaching studio. Each item digitally recorded, both organ and piano, was done in one ‘take’ without any technological tweaking.
Generally speaking, it is good to have a working knowledge of the piano, fortepiano, organ, harpsichord and clavichord especially for playing the music of different composers; but playing the organ is really great for the development of musicianship. ‘Listening to the building’ is important when performing – particularly in a large building, and for the performer, using, for instance, such techniques as when to release the keys after they have been played – a sense of ‘legato’ (joining and smooth) and ‘staccato’ (short and detached) help to punctuate phrases in a large building and thus articulate sound and, along with tonal colours of registration, communicate convincingly and excitingly with character and musicality and with a sense of humour, enjoyment and fully energised playing that is very much individual in character and musical sense and, which most of all, is alive.
When Michael plays the organ, depending on the style of the music, he often uses both written notation and advanced improvisational skills (both sets of musical skill are handy to have as an organist and are the hallmark of a creative artist) to produce a desired musical result of tonal colour along with energy and vibrancy which can be appreciated both emotionally and intellectually. Knowing how notes and phrases fit together is paramount, along with knowing the scientific rules of music and pattern making with regard to pulse, metre, rhythm, syncopation, motif, variation, development etc.. It is also essential to have an ability to engage and communicate, where music is played with relish, enthusiasm, and is warmly presented for the enjoyment of both the player and the listeners – whatever the context of performance.
As an organist, there is always opportunity to demonstrate some vigour, flair and personal style rather than an inflexible approach and attitude (as there are always different approaches and opinions in matters of sound production with true artists willing to appreciate and understand unusual interpretations etc.). It is good to try and reignite the image of the organist as a musician that is fashionable and fun and an independent-minded individual with performances that reflect experience, professional distinction and creative passion with versatility. After all, it is exciting coordinating all four limbs on the organ in order to communicate the broad emotional picture rather than constantly being hung up on technique and minutiae. ‘Performance’ is as important as ‘technique’ and devotion and motion derive from emotion where others feel what the performer feels.