A cheesy but organic organist

Posted: April 3rd, 2015 | Civic Organist News, Columnists, Featured | No Comments

By Dr. Carol Williams | Civic Organist News

Cheese, yes glorious cheese. I shall never forget the intense taste of cheese from the farmers market in Luxembourg City. We were filming a very long “TourBus” for the King of Instruments video DVD and one of the chapters is a visit to this wonderful farmers market on one cool, sunny morning. We glided from stall to stall, sampling a piece here and there with Kerry, my husband, and camera in tow.

Dr. Carol Williams

Dr. Carol Williams

The vendors were fun people and so willing to share samples of their craft. I eventually decided that this cheese was even more superior to UK cheese — and that, my dear friends, is saying something.

I’ve visited Luxembourg many times and made some really great friends. This visit was to do battle with some of the great organs in the area. Over a two-week period we were taken to 10 pipe organs around Luxembourg and Germany and given demonstrations by their respected very fine organists; at he Cathedral, the Philharmonie, Echternach Abbey, and St. Alphonse, the Conservatoire, Chapel of the Knights (the small Buckingham Palace organ was removed during the war), and an interlude section where we visited the United States Cemetery and the German Cemetery (very touching moments).

All in all a monumental TourBus DVD, five hours long on four discs. What a wonderful experience it was. Kerry got to use his broken French and savored some of the finest meats in the world. We took a private plane ride to film castles and drove through great forests. Our friends there were gracious and generous.

Luxembourg is the least populated country in the European Union, with only 465,000 inhabitants; a very small country with a huge culture. It is also the 20th smallest of the 194 independent countries in the world. And here’s a totally useless tidbit of fun info … Luxembourg has won the Eurovision Song Contest five times 1961, 1965, 1972, 1973 and 1983 — a feat only surpassed by Ireland (Kerry cheers, “go Ireland!”).

Yet, Luxembourg still remains a charming place with family values that one associates with the 1950s. Not that I was around in the ’50s mind you, but that’s what I’m told.

I recorded two CDs on this, one of my most favorite organs in the world (don’t mention this in front of the Spreckels organ, she gets terribly jealous). This organ resides in St. Martin’s church just outside the city of Luxembourg in an enchanting little town named Dudelange. The church is a local icon with many beautiful ornate religious relics inside. The town’s imposing City Hall and square is a place where the Church dominates the whole place. Many different small shops line the high street (naughty pastries), delicatessens, vegetable stands, a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and people bustle about on narrow sidewalks by the cobblestone roads.

Castle from the sky (Courtesy

Castle from the sky (Courtesy

We love the architecture. Cafes selling strong coffee where smoking is encouraged. We would walk and observe during the daytime when I had free time. My rehearsals started about 11 p.m. and went on until the early hours of the morning. The nearest loo (toilet) was in the cafe next door, which stayed open very late. This organ has a power like no other with acoustics of bell-like resonance. The instrument could growl like a lion or purr like a cat. Nothing could sound bad on this instrument.

So what’s the connection to cheese? Nothing, really, I’m a planet-loving organist who is a vegetarian, likes cheese and will be performing for you free on Earth Day, which is coming up.

Join me for a totally organic Sunday concert on April 19, at 2 p.m., celebrating Earth Day at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

Stay calm and “like” me on Facebook.

—Civic Organist Carol Williams is proud to serve as an ambassador of San Diego’s arts and culture arena. Through her concert performances at home and abroad, Carol offers a fresh take on the classical organ concert. She is committed to illuminating San Diego’s colorful romance with the “King of Instruments,” always seeking to bring the organ to new audiences. For more information visit

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