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Johannes Wenk

Vor der neuen Pirchner-Orgel der Perchtoldsdorfer Spitalskirche

When in 1985 the Franz Schmidt-Organ in St. Augustin, Perchtoldsdorf (Lower Austria), was built, I was 16 years old and immediately fascinated by this instrument. I was lucky to study with excellent teachers: Robert Strecha, who co-initiated the new organ, Wolfgang Glüxam and Thomas Schmögner. As my family always was in friendly connection with the parish, I had the possibility to practise and - even more important - just to play night and day: to try combinations of stops, to freely improvise and to get to know to some organ literature. Fortunately I learnt playing the piano since 1975 and studied Instrumental Education with Antoinette Van Zabner since 1986 at the Vienna University of Music.

Musical experiences in a very contrary way I made during my military service at guard's music in Vienna, where I did have to pass an entrance examination on the (completety distuned) piano, but finally was not part of the Salon Orchestra but - horror! - of the bigband! On the electric keyboards!! As written sheet music for the keyboard part is really rare, I was forced to learn to play written harmonies. I had never seen such symbols before (no chance with E9-!), nor did I know the consequence for the quavers of the word Swing (ternary quavers, notes inègales whatsoever). These formative experiences and the extraordinary concert with Donna Parker bithed me to the idea to play Light/Jazz music of different sorts on the organ, non-anxious about the cross-over. For me, it is exciting to search for an optimal implementation on the mechanical pipe-organ. Again and again I am surprised and fascinated to find sounds that match so perfectly. Besides that it's simply fun for me! It enriches and revives my dealing with classical organ music: many a movement of a trio sonata by Bach I'm playing even more playfully and I explore many parallels in the way of performing music even in historical performing practice, cultivated in Vienna since Anton Heiller and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. My way to perform music is also influenced by a little bit of Viennese humor, in which I was encouraged by Peter Planyavsky, with whom I studied organ

Yet as a child I always wanted to play the music I liked to listen. So I started to play melodies on the piano note for note, e.g. The Smurfs, Biene Maya, Wickie, Pumuckl & Co. In the course of time I made numerous versions for piano, lateron also for organ. Since I founded the Chamber Choir Salto Vocale in 1990, at that time named The PetersVillage Gospel Singers, I also arrange for choir (from madrigal to pop).

For many of my sutdents at Franz Schmidt-Music School in Perchtoldsdorf respectively at Conservatory for Church Music Of The Archdiocese in Vienna I could make it easier to get in touch with the organ by arranging their music favourites for piano or organ. For me it is important to share these expieriences with my students at University Of Music And Performing Arts in Vienna, where I am a mentor for teaching practice.

I'm especially happy when one of my children asks me: „Daddy, can you please write down the notes of “!

Photo: In front of the new organ by Pirchner in the Spitalskirche in Perchtoldsdorf