Organist Amanda Mole is one of the leading concert organists of her generation and the winner of numerous international competitions. On Sunday, January 29, 2023, she brings her talents to the Murdy Family Organ at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for a free recital following Vespers. We asked Ms. Mole about her upcoming performance, her favorite works, and her advice for aspiring artists. Read her responses below.
Do you have a favorite piece in your current repertoire?
I will always love the Reubke Sonata most of all. I first heard Thomas Trotter play it when I was in my first year of organ study. I loved it the first time I heard it and vowed to play it when I felt I could do it justice technically and musically. I finally learned it during my doctorate and I continue to learn from it every time I play it. That’s something I love about being a musician: we can always learn more from new pieces and also from the pieces we already play.
Do any of the pieces in your program have special significance to you?
The Wedge Prelude and Fugue was my first jury piece at Eastman. A bunch of us were playing it and we all bonded over it that year. Sixteen years later, I still have those friends and see them regularly! In fact, I just played “BWV 548” for a concert hosted by the church of one of those friends.
The Rheinberger [Sonata No. 8] is also special. I learned it because I love the ending: it sounds like it’s ending in a major key and then it quickly turns to end in minor. I remember being so moved when listening to a close friend’s recording of it. I was inspired to learn the whole Sonata and began to dive deeper into Rheinberger’s music after that. He has a fabulous output of works, including no less than 20 (!) organ sonatas and several miscellaneous works.
How often do you practice?
In my heavier competition days, I’d average around 8-10 hours per day in the “on” season and 4-5 hours per day in the “off” season (between competitions and recordings). Now with a full-time job, I try to get at least some time [in] every day. Some days I’m able to practice for several hours and others I’m not able to practice at all. It’s all about balance and planning.
What has been your most memorable performance as an organist thus far?
It’s tough to pick just one! I can narrow my answer down to two performances. The first was the final round of the Musashino-Tokyo International Organ Competition. At this point, I had played for many of the judges several times in several competitions. They knew me and had watched me grow as a performer. I poured my whole self into this performance and I remember that feeling of total immersion in emotional expression at the end. This was my first time in Japan. I will never forget it for a lot of reasons, but the evening of the finals was the most memorable.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring artists?
One of my professors always said, “Just work as hard as you possibly can and try not to worry.” To this sage advice, I would add: observe and absorb as much as you can. Learn from teachers, professionals, peers, and colleagues. Finally, have fun. Play for yourself. It’s important to never forget the reason we are all here, which is to make music. Enjoyment and fulfillment are important parts of this practice.
We’d like to thank Amanda Mole for her answers. Listen to her perform some of her favorite pieces as well as works from 17th to 20th-century composers, including Pachelbel, Mendelssohn, and Calvin Hampton, on Sunday, January 29. The performance is free following Vespers. No tickets are required.