Joan was invited by Pastor Don Loving, of Milan Presbyterian Church, in Milan, Ohio, to give an organ recital in honor of the congregation’s ongoing celebration of 200 years as a congregation. Memorial Day weekend may seem like a strange time for such an event, but in this case, it was perfect. This was a traditional time of celebration for the congregation, with people coming back to town to participate. Special displays in the fellowship hall traced the long history of the church. People did indeed come to enjoy a luncheon and Joan’s recital afterwards.
The first half of the program featured works by European composers, including Bach, Pachelbel and William Walond. An opening hymn prelude by Jan Bender, one of my first composition teachers at Wittenberg began the program. Joan devoted the second half of her program to hymn based works by American composers. She played two of my hymn preludes, based on the Simple Gifts and Bradbury hymn tunes. These are old friends; Simple Gifts was the first prelude that I wrote for Joan back in the 1980s. Bradbury was written in Mississippi during the 1990s; this was a tune that I thought that I didn’t care for until I looked at it more closely and discovered that the hymn had considerable merits. The tune was sentimental, but not overbearingly so. It is a tune that brings comfort to many; I set my rendition of this tune as a nostalgic look back, a remembrance of the days that Joan and I spent together in the deep South. The other works on the second half were by Emma Lou Diemer, Calvin Taylor and Michael Bedford.
While at the church, I learned that Thomas Edison was born in Milan and baptized at this church. The fellowship hall had an antique light fixture on the ceiling that was donated by the inventor; he intended it to be used in the sanctuary, but it was not large enough to illuminate this room. Edison’s birth home was just down the street from the church a couple blocks.
Joan was tired when it was over but pleased with how the recital went. Both of us had a nice afternoon interacting with the good people in Milan.
Doug and Joan, Pastor Don Loving, Heidelberg colleague Ken Krieger