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by Daniel Hathaway

SuterDuring his tenure as organist of Washington National Cathedral, Erik Wm. Suter introduced the organ to thousands of tourists in weekly recitals, astutely planning his programs to immediately grab the attention of listeners who might never have attended an organ recital before, then moving on to show the palette of colors a large pipe organ could produce and the range of musical styles it could handle.

The good-sized audience at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights last Saturday afternoon at 5 pm certainly weren’t tourists and probably not first-timers, but Suter’s sure sense of programming, canny registration and brilliant playing were all in evidence. His program covered a lot of musical territory in just over an hour and fully explored the resources of the church’s 1952 Holtkamp organ.

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by Daniel Hathaway

SuterFormer Washington Cathedral organist Erik Wm. Suter will play a recital on the Holtkamp organ in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights on Saturday, September 20 at 5:00 pm. The big question is whether he’ll fly himself to Cleveland.

When Suter was growing up in Chicago, two things fascinated him, and the first one wasn’t music. “I took my first airplane ride when I was three,” he said in a recent telephone conversation. “For better or worse, they let me come up to the cockpit and I was hooked. I really wanted to be a pilot — who doesn’t when he’s a kid!”

The organ came later. “My dad was a Lutheran pastor, so I was exposed to organ playing every week. I found the instrument more technically fascinating than musical — I’m drawn to complexity — and originally I was more interested in building organs than in playing them. Then I started taking lessons at the age of 13 and fell in love with the repertoire.”

Suter revisited his interest in organ building while studying organ performance at Oberlin with Haskell Thompson from 1991-1995, where he came into contact with Oberlin’s organ technician. “Hal Gobert hired me for a few summers at his shop in Toronto. I think it makes you a better organist if you fully understand what goes on inside.” Read the rest of this entry »

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