Restored to health in time for “The Gold Rush”

As mysteriously as it came on last Saturday, my disease went away yesterday. I had not slept particularly well on Thursday night, and I’d left work early on Thursday. On my way out I had said to people that I doubted that I would be in on Friday, because I was feeling so rotten. But yesterday morning I got up feeling more or less normal. Hooray.

Last night I went to hear Todd Wilson, organist, at Severance Hall, in a concert of “musical bon-bons” and a silent film accompaniment to Charlie Chaplain’s “The Gold Rush.” Todd played beautifully, as usual (there is never any question about that). But in a classic case of “What-Were-They-Thinking?”, who in their right mind schedules an organ recital in the evening of Good Friday? Who mostly goes to organ recitals? Organists. What do organists do during Holy Week? They either play for a zillion services or they are getting ready to play for a zillion services. Hence the attendance at Severance Hall was estimated at about 500. I was pretty surprised at how many organists of my acquaintance actually were present. More than I might have expected.

I had never seen Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.” It is an acknowledged masterpiece of silent film and moves from brilliant comedy to tender heartbreak from one moment to another. Todd Wilson improvised a full-length organ accompaniment to the movie, using themes drawn from dozens of sources (The jittery middle section of Bach’s “Toccata in D Minor, BWV 565” was used to illustrate the howling Alaskan wind.)

It was an enjoyable evening at Severance Hall–too bad more people didn’t hear it.