Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Mickey Thomas Terry: Recollections of George Walker

George Walker (1922-2018)

Mickey Thomas Terry

Mickey Thomas Terry writes:

I had a 25-year friendship with George Walker.  I am still recovering from the news of his passing. I spoke with George Walker for the last time about five weeks ago.  Toward the end of the conversation, I remember him saying repeatedly: "I want people to play my music, I want people to play my music, I want people to play my music."  Those words have resonated in my mind several times since hearing the news.  
He was a brilliant man, imbued with culture and the epitome of dignity. He surprised me once by appearing at one of my New York recitals (St. Thomas Church on 5th Avenue) and was seated directly beside Noel Da Costa...WOW! What an honor to have these musical giants to take the time out of their busy schedules to hear me.
A particular fond memory dates to the day when he won the Pulitzer Prize.  I remember that day particularly well, because he called me on the very evening that he received news of the award. Interestingly enough, Dr. Walker was only informed when reporters from the New York Times knocked on his door in order to receive his reaction.
Not long after meeting him, Dr. Walker asked me to record his "Three Pieces for Organ," which appears on the Albany Record label.  Later, he dedicated an organ composition to me, "Spires," which he wrote especially for me. It is one of the most difficult pieces that I have ever played. It was classic George Walker.  I premiered it at the 1998 American Guild of Organists National Convention in Denver. He and his son Gregory were in the audience for both performances. Later, I recorded it for American Public Radio.  It was while i was in Denver for the convention that Dr. Walker came to my hotel in order for me to interview him.  This interview became the basis of an article that was ultimately published in "The Musical Quarterly."  He was particularly pleased with the interview, as was I.
I could go on all day with my personal recollections of George Walker. He was a musical giant and an immense inspiration to me and so many others...a great American composer. I thank God for the opportunity to meet him and to call him a friend. I will never forget him. May his music live forever!
Requiescat in pace,
Mickey Thomas Terry

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