This summer I had the rare opportunity to be part of a Czech wedding in Brno, Moravia. My friends, Lucie Šilerová and Martin Pešl, asked if I would be willing to play the organ for their 7 July wedding. I had originally gotten to know them when Lucie came to the CSPS Hall in St. Paul in 2009 to examine the Sokol music and theater archives, Since then, the three of us have had a number of adventures together, both here in Minnesota and in various parts of the Czech Republic.
The wedding was going to be held at the Church of The Holy Trinity (kostel Nejsvětější Trojice), in Brno-Královo Pole. The church was built in 1375 and remodeled in Baroque style between 1760-1777. The organ, however, was built in the 1950s during the communist era, when the church was not given access to quality building materials to construct an organ. There is a fund-raising campaign in place to raise money to replace the organ, but in the meantime, I was told the organ was not being well maintained and I could expect some things to not work. It was also a larger organ (3 manuals) than I had played since I was a student 50+ years ago. So I knew I was going to need a substantial amount of time to get used to the organ and find ways to make it sound its best under the current conditions.
Being an integral part of a wedding is simply something not available to tourists, so this was both an exciting opportunity to get more acquainted with Czech culture, but also an extreme challenge to see if I could function adequately on an instrument I was not familiar with and overcome the language barrier with my limited Czech.