Taking the Nation’s Capital Festival students, directors, and counselors on a Saturday morning field trip is always a highlight of our week in DC together.

Several years ago, Monte Maxwell, Organist at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, issued YouthCUE a standing invitation to bring the students to the Academy to sing an informal concert … mainly for the the tourists coming through the chapel … and a demonstration he gives of the Academy Chapel organ.

The organ demonstration always turns out to be one of the most memorable events of the Festival week. Monte’s presentation is nothing short of genius. What he provides in the demonstration is highly educational, extremely inspiration, at times comical, and always totally engaging. As the students sit in the pews in the Chapel nave, Monte begins his demonstration. Within 90 seconds of the beginning of the demonstration, the students make good on Monte’s offer for them to gather around the console to watch as well as listen. The students rotate being closest to the organ so that everyone has a chance to come up close in the 25-minute demonstration. The demonstration is never long enough; the students, directors, and counselors always want more.

Playing and creating on the spot totally by memory, Monte uses bits and pieces of standard organ literature along with hymns, pop tunes, and Broadway favorites. He normally includes STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER, played at an incredibly lively tempo. Whatever the style, his playing is fantastically clean and filled with feeling, emotion, and fire … even the softest, gentlest, slowest arrangements have electricity charging through their phrases.

Coming to hear Monte Maxwell play is but one of the glorious experiences shared by the students at the Nation’s Capital Festivals.

Thank you, Monte, for your amazing talent and your generous spirit in sharing our gifts with our students! We always walk away in awe both of the instrument and of you!

Randy Edwards

Students come upon the chancel to watch Monte play. Even though they see it, they still can’t believe what they’re hearing. Awe-inspiring astonishment!