By Carol Williams | Civic Organist News
In between learning new scores, rehearsing them, setting up the Spreckels organ for the next Sunday concert, dealing with visiting musicians and composing, I actually do find some time for a little life outside of music.
I enjoy the companionship of my horses and dog. We had chickens for a while and it was nice having them wander around the yard, but I got tired of replacing them only to be providing feed for the coyotes. Anyway, the rooster was a real bugger; we didn’t get along. So, I’ve been thinking about geese.
On our many trips to a feed store, while my hubby looks at new gadgets and various parts for the grove, tractor and other unnamable objects, I like to check on the baby livestock for sale.
I walked toward the back on a recent trip, and there, parked in a corner, were two baby geese. I peered at them as they chirped rapidly, cowering in a corner of their container. How cute but frightened they were. I was fixated on these geese. So small and fragile — yes, I know what people say they grow into but I had set my heart on geese a while ago. So, I started singing to them. They quieted down and stared back at me. Ah, they needed a home, so at $5 a piece I adopted them, and one hour later they were occupying our empty chicken coop. Fully protected from predators, they soon had taken ownership of their coop and me! They follow me all around — me singing like the Pied Piper; they must think I’m their mother.
Our dog, who is also a rescue, a stubborn but warm-hearted Airedale, was not so sure about the new additions, “George and Mildred,” as they are now called. Dietrich Buxtehude Bell (a dog named after a famous organ composer, of course) is adapting. He is a bright boy. We make several visits a day to George and Mildred and at about six weeks old, they are familiar with us handling them and Dietrich coming into their large caged area.
I have always loved animals and so has my husband. With my music I have done many charity concerts to raise money to help them. This started years ago in the U.K. As a child, I was bitten many times by dogs as I would wander right up to them and try to cuddle them. More often than not, I would receive the consequences of a startled dog. Our local police station was used to me turning up with stray dogs that I had found abandoned on the streets. I did not — and still don’t — understand why a minority of people can treat animals so badly.
When I was living in the U.K., I started a series of concerts for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). They are similar to our Humane Society, and this theme has stayed with me and grown.
As the civic organist, I started the “Bark in Balboa Park” fundraiser concert, which is now approaching its 10th year. All the proceeds from this concert go to the San Diego Humane Society. I have to thank the Spreckels Organ Society for supporting this event so wholeheartedly.
A lot of musicians are devoted to their pets. I know one cathedral organist in the U.K. who has his large German shepherd parked in the organ loft while he rehearses. As a performing musician, I spend many hours at my craft and lose myself with sounds, but when I am with my animals, I am always in the moment. They teach us so much about life. All they want is food, shelter and love. They give us unconditional love in return, putting up with all our egos and moods and never criticizing.
So, come to Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on any Sunday afternoon with your animal companion and enjoy our great community. Give your pet a musical treat!
—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 sosorgan.com.