Closer in size to a building than other instruments, the organ has been a musical fixture since the age of antiquity, when the Greek Ctesibius had the idea to create different tones with water pressure, wind and pipes. Since then, it has gone through numerous adaptations and branched off into multiple forms, but the tried and true notion of using hands and feet to manipulate air into sound remains.
For centuries, the organ was associated with sacred music and was found primarily in churches. It eventually made its way into the secular sphere and is present throughout the history of western music. While largely replaced by electronic keyboards in today’s popular music, the organ is still found regularly in jazz, gospel, R&B, classical and funk outfits. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a real organ, and there remains an appreciative audience of the magnificent and massive instrument. Numerous organizations around the world exist to preserve and celebrate the organ, and to introduce it to new generations of enthusiasts.
Founded in 1896, the American Guild of Organists strives to promote the organ’s evolving role in music and to provide inspiration, education, understanding and appreciation of the organ. The guild, which has 350 chapters worldwide, is open to anyone interested in the organ, including professional organists, choir directors, clergy, students, teachers, organ builders, technicians, suppliers and dedicated supporters.
The San Jose chapter of the AGO holds regular meetings featuring performances, lectures, seminars and discussions on all things organ. Their upcoming Organ Masters Concert is a performance by Joyce Rhodes, who has been the organist at Stone Church for the last 40 years. The free concert will be at Stone Church of Willow Glen on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 3pm.