Hi everyone! We just got back from taping a show in Abilene, Texas, and it was an unforgettable experience. From the place we stayed to the venue we played, to the terrific kids and unexpected music, it was definitely one-of-a-kind! Special thanks to the folks at KACU Abilene Public Radio for their warm welcome and hard work to make such a great taping happen!
First, I want to tell you about our spectacular living arrangements. We stayed at the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses, a series of rustic cottages, each uniquely furnished in West Texas style, and featuring all sorts of antiques and offbeat touches, such as a room wall-papered entirely in beautiful old book covers and another textured in pennies! I learned that the quirky, but exceptionally cool, room I was staying in was actually a converted barn (I thought I had noticed the faint smell of hay in there).
The taping took place in the majestic First Baptist Church in Abilene, home to a brand new, world-class pipe organ that we were more than happy to help inaugurate. Now I do have a confession I should make here: truth be told, I have never been a big fan of organ music. Well, this show completely changed my perspective. We featured two of the best young organists in the country, and not only did they both play unexpected repertoire that got my attention in a truly great way, but we also featured a skit that showed off the huge range of sound the organ can produce.
Opening the show was 15-year-old organist Karen Christianson playing “Everyone Dance” by Calvin Hampton. Next up was cellist extraordinaire (and From the Top alum) Taeguk Mun, 16, who played Tchaikovsky brilliantly. Local piano sensation Halle Puckett, 12, took the stage next playing Etude in F major, Op. 72, No. 6 by Moritz Moszkowski. Following her was 18-year-old percussionist Austin Allen (who, we learned, is actually a descendent of the founder of the state of Texas)! He treated us to the piece “Ilijas” by Nebojsa Zivkovic. The show closed with 18-year-old organist Eric Fricke, who played his own arrangement of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” by Joe Hisaishi from the anime film of the same name. I caught the entirety of his performance on Flipcam for you during dress rehearsal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!