Vatican organist performs at SJU

Members of the American Guild of Organists and other music enthusiasts assembled in St. Thomas More Church on Sunday evening to witness the performance of Dr. James Edward Goettsche, Organist of the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter.
The recital, which was presented by the Queens Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, also marked the Chapter’s 50th year in existence.

The recital began at 7 p.m. with a rendition of several well known Bach pieces, including two hymns that are included in the church’s songbook, Breaking Bread, during which he asked the audience to sing along. The renowned recitalist then proceeded to perform several more pieces from the Romantic period, which stood in contrast to the earlier Bach numbers. The concert ended in a hymn which Goettsche played during the Vatican conclave, in which the current Pope, Benedict XVI, was elected.

The audience, mostly members of the AGO who were experienced organists themselves, had positive reactions to the performance, which contained songs found in most seasoned organist’s repertoires.

Goettsche is a native of Los Angeles, California and is of German descent. Graduating from the Conservatory of Rome with a degree in organ and organ composition, Goettsche became organist of the Basilica of Santa Francesca Romana. He gained notoriety during this period with his Sunday afternoon performances, appearing on prime time Italian television broadcasts as well as those on the Vatican Radio.

In 1989 he was elected official organist of the Vatican Basilica of Saint Peter. Since then he has accompanied the principal liturgical celebrations in that Basilica while at the same time touring, recording and teaching at the State Conservatory of Music Frosinone.

At one point during the concert, Goettsche quoted Bach in exclaiming “The secret of the organ is to push a few buttons and the organ does the rest,”