(ED. NOTE: This tongue-in-cheek account
is sure to bring a smile to your face! It was received in an
e-mail message to AccompaList. --R.H.)
On Saturday, the third of August, well
past the stated time of 2:00 p.m., Ann Jones and Bob Smith were
married at Our Lady of Sorry Acoustics. The delay was attributed
to the late arrival of an aunt of the bride and was deftly covered
by organist Reginald Laudfuss (now celebrating his seventh month
at the church), who improvised on an original theme for well
over ten minutes. This improvisation was accomplished in all
minor keys without the use of the organ's wholly unnecessary
transposer. Mr. Laudfuss gives thanks to the church's wedding
coordinator, Ima Thority, for flashing him a series of hand signals
during the crisis.
Mr. Laudfuss chose a lightweight summer
robe of shimmering burgundy to conceal his cutoffs and T-shirt.
The organist's shoes, in tasteful traditional black, were by
Organmaster, accessorized with upgraded laces from Thom McAn.
They are his third pair in about fifteen years, and enable his
playing "sole music." The wedding party wore the usual
The organ is the fourth or fifth rebuild
of what was originally a dreadful 1920's theater organ from the
old Roxy Theater. It now contains additional pipework from an
Ox tracker, salvaged after a mysterious fire in an organ practice
room at the University. Other stops have been added according
to the tastes of organists who have come and gone. The Great
Harmonic Flute was voiced by Harrison and purchased from Cathedral
of Perpetual Ostentation during their 1977 project. The Wurlitzer
Brass Trumpet (now temporarily residing in place of the Swell
Oboe) is the envy of the city. It is rumored to have been stolen
(all 61 pipes!) from the now-shuttered Palace. The organ's combination
action, unfortunately, is unreliable.
There were a sufficiently large number
of attendants to build a lengthy processional upon, but despite
last night's rehearsal, they heedlessly hurried up the aisle,
resulting in a drastic compression of the "Prince of Denmark's
March." This critical number was therefore performed with
no repeats, and Mr. Laudfuss pointedly ended on the dominant
in protest. (In worked better in theory and in practice than
in actual performance.)
However, the 8' Tuba (purchased pre-voiced
over the internet and the central feature of the March) was a
resounding success as could be measured by the smiles that spread
throughout the congregation during the processional.
After a few minutes of talking by a
clergy type, the organist played the first four phrases of the
Schubert "Ave Maria" (in E-major to avoid a pulled
pipe) on the shimmering Choir Gemshorn 8' (no tremolo) while
the couple did something.
Later, somebody's female relative breathily
sang "The Wedding Song." It appeared that this person's
usual venue was a country-western bar, and some tension occurred
during the solo. The soloist attempted to continue singing during
the interludes. Mr. Laudfuss responded by trying to cover her
error with cues from the Swell Trompette 8' (Wicks, 1940's, revoiced
by Gantt in the 1958 rebuild) but she continued in her own misguided
way forcing the organist to shuffle his music loudly. This contretemps
prevented the congregation from enjoying the subtle chiff of
the Choir Gedeckt 8', which would have been the only bright spot
in a notoriously boring song.
The recessional was the Mendelssohn,
chosen despite Mr. Laudfuss's counsel to the contrary. It was
played on a satisfying plenum in A B A B A form to fit the available
time. When the wedding party was finally out of the way Mr. Laudfuss
presented the Widor Toccata as the postlude. The guests inconsiderately
talked throughout the number, but the organist added stops as
the noise level increased, masterfully maneuvering each drawknob,
coupler and piston without missing a single note of the Widor.
The sforzando button unexpectedly brought the Brass Trumpet into
the ensemble but by now there was no turning back and the Widor
ended breathtakingly. This noble feat did not go unnoticed by
the congregation, who responded with audible sighs. The melody
lingered as long as the cipher continued; the sighs ended in
a simultaneous release when the melody at last faded.
The bride and groom went to college
somewhere, but they apparently did not take any music. After
their honeymoon they will blend into suburbia where they will
produce children with no music appreciation. The highlight of
each year will be the replaying of Mr. Laudfuss's work via a
It is said of Mr. Laudfuss' performances
that he was great, swell, and no rank amateur. Although a wedding
performance is manual labor for many organists, he consoles himself
that it is a labor of love for him.