Music instructor performs in Vatican City
Music instructor and organist Ted Dix performed his organ repertoire internationally in basilicas across Italy, including at a Vatican mass.
As a faculty member of Organ Tour Italia, Dix and tour director Paul J. Carroll, with whom Dix attended The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, led their students on an Italian organ tour from Como to Rome, examining historic organ specimens and performing at beautiful venues along the way.
Dix, who had never previously been to Europe, said the 10-day experience met his expectations.
“Just to be in those spaces, to play those instruments that were built when the music was being composed, was enlightening and eye-opening,” said Dix.
The Italian baroque organ in Como was built in 1680 and had only one keyboard and one octave of pedals, a far cry from the multiple keyboards and overall larger size of McDaniel’s own Aeolian-Skinner organ that was donated to the college in 1958 and recently restored in 2011.
“It’s a totally different world,” said Dix, who explained that American organs are typically built larger to accommodate music from all different countries and eras.
Besides performing in three joint recitals at various stops along the tour, Dix played the organ prelude and postlude at the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican City. The Pope was in Brazil at the time.
Dix said that years of competitive experience prevented him from feeling any added pressure about playing at such a prestigious venue, although he did have a confession: “My nerves were shot because I was jetlagged.”
However, the only effect on his performance was the resonance of the large room, the echoes of which necessitated he play at a slower tempo.
Among the tour’s five major performances, Dix’s favorite venue was Saint Gregory the Great in Consiglio di Rumo (right), the first joint recital of the tour, where he played “Pastorale” by Zipoli, among other pieces.
Following the study tour, Dix made his European solo debut at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, where he performed Italian and Italian-inspired organ music. Dix said the 50 seated guests and hundred or so wandering tourists seemed to receive the performance well.
Dix, who teaches private organ lessons and musicianship at McDaniel College, expects to return on next year’s organ tour, provided the company enrolls enough students.
In the meantime, Dix is preparing for November’s Masterworks Chorale concert, of which he is the accompanist, as well as a Monday Night Music performance at McDaniel in January with fellow music instructor James Ryan on trombone.