David Heller will showcase organ at tonight’s faculty recital in chapel

Photograph by Jennie Ran.
Photograph by Jennie Ran.

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. David Heller, the university organist and music department chair, will be performing on the organ in Parker Chapel. Prior to his performance, Heller answered some questions about the recital.

Q: What is your background in music?

A: Music has been a part of my life from early on. I began piano when I was six, always sang in choirs in grade, middle and high school, played clarinet in band and piano in jazz ensemble.

Q: How did you pick up the organ?

A: I started organ study when I was 13 in eighth grade. I continued throughout high school to study both organ and piano until I went off to college, at which point I majored in organ at Lawrence University as an undergrad.

Q: What advice would you give to students interested in picking up the organ?

A: To have a good, solid foundation on the piano first before taking on an instrument which depends upon the coordination of hands and feet together.

Q: How do you practice and how long were you practicing for this recital?

A: Some of these pieces that I’m playing for the program have been in preparation for a couple of years; for others, about six months.

Q: What is your favorite memory of playing the organ?

A: My favorite memory is performing on the wonderful 19th-century instrument in the Church of St. Francois de Sales in Lyon, France, in a recital in 1992. It was a bit of an out-of-body experience where I was able to let go of control and let the music take over completely. It was as if I floated out of my body and watched what was happening. It was glorious event – one in which I really felt like I was creating something spectacular out of the music.

Q: What kind of music will you play tonight?

A: It will be an eclectic program of American, German and English repertoire, from the 18th to the 21st century, featuring the composers Craig Phillips, J.S.  Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Herbert Howells, Samuel Barber and Max Reger.

Q: How are you involved in the Trinity community besides being head of the music department?

A: I’m pretty involved in life at Trinity. I also hold the dual position of university organist, so I play for many of the big events on campus. I also participate in the life of the university through committees, etc.

Q: Do other faculty members hold recitals at Trinity, and if so, are there more upcoming recitals?

A: Yes, and you can see the listing on our published calendar, as well as the music department website.

Q: What is something that you wish students knew about the music department?

A: We are open to everyone –through lessons, classes and ensembles. We engage nearly a quarter of the school’s population through our courses, lessons and ensembles, and we play a vital role in the life of this university.

Q: What other events does Trinity hold for students interested in music or listening to music?

A: Concerts and recitals – all open to the campus population as well as the general public. There are tons of events that take place over here. The information is often a click away on your computer.

Q: What is your favorite part of being at Trinity?

A: The students – I love working with them in both the classroom (I teach the first year theory sequence.) and in the lesson. They are engaged and willing to participate in dialogue – and they’re not afraid to speak their minds – which I like.