The Nationals organist exists!

We cashed in some Red Carpet Reward points for a visit with the Nationals Park organist.  It was well worth it.  The view from his perch is spectacular, although it is a long way up.  We had a nice view of approaching weather and the tarp being rolled out since we were up there for the second, third, and fourth innings during that rain delayed game in the last homestand.

The organist has a monitor in his room so he can see replays, etc.  He has a separate split screen on top of the organ showing the TV feed and the DJ.  He and the DJ used to be right next to each other in the same room (since he had just a keyboard), but when the Nats upgraded to the real custom organ they needed a way to communicate between rooms.  The DJ handles all the pre-recorded music, including a couple of recorded organ snippets.  Typically, since they can see each other on the monitor, they just use hand signals.  Jerome (the Nationals’ stadium announcer) is in the room between Matt and the DJ.

Matt does keep the window open several inches so he can hear the crowd reactions, even if it’s sprinkling a little bit. He works hard timing the snippets within the rhythm of the game. He does get the occasional bug in the window, but never had a bird problem.

For those who don’t know, Matt has a doctor of music degree, teaches piano and organ at the university level.  He always wanted to be a stadium organist, but just missed the audition for Cleveland when he was college age. He finally got his chance with the Nationals through a “friend of a friend who worked there.” He sent in his demo CD in 2010, and the rest is history.

Matt has met most of the other 13-14 major league organists, as well as a number of other sports’ organists. They don’t have an annual meeting or anything like that, but he does try to meet the other organists as he travels.  He hasn’t seen the Wrigley setup yet, since he hasn’t been there since he’s been the Nats organist.  At one point, the Cubs had an organist for spring training in AZ, but they went to recorded music when they built their new ST stadium.  There are a couple of stadiums (including Petco) where the organist is out basically in public: you can walk up to him and chat during the game.

The players (or the player’s family) generally choose their walk-up (or run-in) music, but he or the DJ will choose something if the player doesn’t choose one.  There was a period where Jayson Werth specifically requested “no walkup music.”

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