Video: Tampa organist records Brahms, Bach to help promote calm amid coronavirus chaos

Haig Mardirosian, the organist at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, is Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Tampa. He is also Professor Emeritus of Music at American University in Washington, DC.

As a concert organist, Mardirosian has earned international standing by performing at major concert halls around the world and recording more than 20 bodies of work.

But since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the temporary suspending of public gatherings in Florida, including church services, he has started recording pieces and posting them to YouTube for the enjoyment of members of the congregation and others looking for a bit of respite from the chaos. 

When asked to describe his #covid19 project by 83 Degrees, he responded via email:

“For the moment what I have been doing is very informal. I have actually been duplicating the preludes and postludes from the virtual church services that PCPC has put online, only produced quite professionally. My crew is my iPhone.
“I do intend to continue doing these with some regularity, and, yes, it is a specific response to these incredible times. It is also a very small emblem of the great shift that we have been seeing but will continue to see in a greatly accelerated fashion, in the arts. Everyone in that business from the Met (museum) to the Met (opera) is scrambling to recreate itself as a media entity and, more the to point perhaps, monetize that rebirth. Much will, one fears, fall off the table, but that, I aver, is small compared to the dimensions of human suffering and loss in the face of this global pandemic.’’
Mardirosian has posted a couple of Brahms videos on his Facebook page and uploaded them to YouTube at the request of 83 Degrees to share with a broader audience. On Monday, he uploaded a couple of Bach videos. More to come.

“My only fear about this moving ahead is that, were there to be a plenary order causing us to be sheltered at home with only the options of leaving for emergent circumstances, I might no longer be able to get to PCPC to prepare and post these,’’ Mardirosian writes. “But, one perseveres and hopes for the best all the way around.’’

Here are links to Mardirosian playing: And here is more about Mardirosian in this Q&A published by 83 Degrees in 2010. 

Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is an award-winning journalist with four decades of experience writing about the Tampa Bay region. She is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society, and serves on the board of The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council and the StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Broadcasting. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Awesome Tampa Bay, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She lives in South Tampa, is the mother of two adult daughters and grandmother to two amazing grandchildren, and travels whenever possible with laptop in tow.