I've played the organ since I was 13, and was much in demand to perform at weddings all through my teenage years. On this occasion, I was 19 and the soloist, a Chinese girl, and I were rehearsing for the wedding to take place the following morning.The bride-to-be, who I knew slightly, was a classmate of my sister's. The place was the Cathedral - an imposing white stone structure in Bismarck, second in stature only to the capitol building which rises 18 stories above the plains. The organ is 3 manual, huge and splendid, and although I had played for the Bishop's Choir, so had the opportunity to use it fairly frequently, I always was nervous and excited with the power it contains.
What made this evening somewhat special, is that my boyfriend from the previous summer, Al, was coming to take me out, and we agreed to meet at the Cathedral. The soloist, who had a sweet but very shakey voice, went through the Ave Maria with me. Then she left and I stayed a bit longer to practice the marches - opening the pedals full and making the church vibrate.
"You are using way too much vibrato," said a voice behind me.
"These are the stops I normally use," I countered.
"That doesn't make them right," he said, quite agressively.
"What business is it of yours anyway," came the deep dramatic voice of Al, who had snuck into the choir lot earlier without my knowning it. "She is perfectly entitled to use whatever setting she chooses." I was so pleased to see him, and have him defending me.
"I'm the regular organist here now," said the man. I didn't disbelieve it, since I had been off at college for the last year, no doubt they would have replaced me.
"I think I've had enough practice," I said, and turned off the organ and left, without any more conversation with the man.
This date with Al was to make up for him having stood me up a few weeks previously. We had arranged to meet after my work, and I waited nearly an hour before I gave up and went home. Al lived in a little town about 50 miles north. When I got home, Mom said Al had called and said he was sorry but he'd had a flat tire. So I called him back (which I had been told never to do as his mother didn't like the idea of him dating a Catholic) and he said that he'd had the problem about half way there and by the time he'd fixed it, he was dirty and tired and just went back home.
I didn't believe him. I wrote him a rather unkind note saying just that, and followed it with a nicer note saying I was sorry I hadn't believed him. And this date was to sort of see if we could still be friends. He was no longer my boyfriend, he had broken up with me the previous October, but I still hoped that he would come back to me again, and yet knew full well that it would never happen.
After we left the Cathedral, we went down into the town for pizza (and I forgot it was Friday and had one with salami which delighted him no end). As we walked hand in hand through the streets he sang loudly and beauifully, "On the Street Where You Live" for all of Bismarck to hear.
The wedding went badly. I started playing one of the marches in the wrong key, the soloist went very flat, and then the bride fainted. And I don't think I used the vibrato at all.