What is this fascination/obsession that people have with Diane Bish’s sexuality and whether she’s married — to a guy, of course — or not? People often end up here at pink barrio when they search the question: “Is Diane Bish married?” So I thought I’d make that part of the title of this article since it is a rather common search engine question.
Update – September 2020: Someone came to pink barrio recently by searching “is Diane Bish still performing.” To my knowledge she’s not. I think she’s now retired. There’s nothing on The Joy of Music site about a performance schedule or tours. No concertising or tours of the EU or in the non-United States or anywhere. About 2 years ago I guess it was I did see a video of Diane performing in a church and she looked like she was having problems playing some of the organ repertoire that she had played much of her career. She was closely following the score acting as if the piece were somewhat unfamiliar to her. I felt sorry for her because these were pieces that she played beautifully and fluently/breezed through during her concertising career. But in this performance, it looked like she was having trouble with very familiar pieces. I remember saying to myself: She’s looking at the score so closely as if she’s never seen the piece before. Perhaps health problems, such as dementia or something? I hope that’s not the case, but that’s the way it looked in that performance. I was sorry to see that. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with looking at the score closely but this was a piece as I recall — I forget which one it was — that she routinely played from memory. And here during the COVID-19 pandemic, no concert artists are performing, and there can’t be any audiences because of the COVID-19 health guidelines and restrictions. They can perform in a “virtual” situation online and some musicians are doing that, but I’m not sure how well that would work for organ. The organ is a difficult instrument to record well. Assuming Diane has an organ (a Digital Organ) at home, she could perform at home and video record her performance(s) and upload them to U-toob, but then how would she make some income from that with small little donations, which is all that most people would likely give? But no, she’s not performing to my knowledge. Hope this helps. Related: The problems with The Virtual Choir.
Update – August 2019: Someone came to pink barrio recently by searching “How old is Diane Bish?” (Too many words). She was born May 25, 1941, so as of this writing she’s 78. After all this time, do people not know how to use search engines properly? Doesn’t seem like it. I use a search engine nearly constantly. It took me about 2 seconds to find Bish’s age by typing in “Diane Bish, age.” You don’t need all those other words.
Update – July 2019: Someone came to pink barrio recently by searching “Is Diane Bish a millionaire?” I had never thought anything about her wealth or lack of, she’s never struck me as wealthy, she’s certainly not arrogant or anything like that, so it’s curious to me that someone would be asking that question. My guess is that she’s not wealthy or overly wealthy based on several factors: If I had to take a guess, I’d say that any wealth she accrued from working at Coral Ridge is probably long gone. She may have used that dinero/money for her show. To produce The Joy of Music she had to pay Haney Productions, her production crew, her small staff (or did they mostly work for free?) and she may have had to pay the parish or cathedral church in which she was recording. Churches are extremely difficult to work with in that regard. From my experience as a musician, religious people are not overly generous to musicians. A $25.00 check here and maybe a $50-100.00 check there might come in to the office, but that’s certainly is not enough to run a company such as TJoM. If she has any money today, it’s likely from her concertising — which she’s doing less of now — where she’s paid a fee for each performance. TJoM may have charged a fee to the one or two television stations carrying her programme, or Diane let them run them for free to get the publicity. Except for orchestral musicians in major symphony orchestras, musicians are not a wealthy group of people. Most are rather poor which is why it requires them to work other jobs to sustain their music interests. If they had to rely on the income from their music, they’d likely end up homeless, depending upon where they’re living. Hope this helps.
Now on to the original article about Diane:
Hola. There certainly are a lot of people interested in Diane Bish’s sexual orientation. I don’t know why. But nearly every day someone comes to pink barrio from searching, “Is Diane Bish gay?” or “Is Diane Bish married?” or “Was Diane Bish ever married?” or “Did Diane Bish ever marry?” Of course when they ask the last three questions they’re not thinking about same-gender/gay marriage, but rather whether she’s married to a man. And I suspect most of these heteronormative people — and might they be bigoted/anti-gay people? — want her to be married to a man. These religious people are pathetic.
“Church organists can be touchy.”—Organist Diane Bish. I suspect that Diane knows that doesn’t even begin to cover it!
Recently I read an interesting interview with organist Diane Bish and in the interview Diane talked about the many preparations involved for a taping of her programmes, The Joy of Music (TJOM). That would involve having to contact the church organist where she would like to record to get permission to use the organ. (Good luck with that, Diane! You have my sympathy, you poor thing.)
I had suspected that Diane’s experience with church organists would be similar to mine despite her excellent reputation with TJOM. Of course Diane is being very polite by saying, “church organists can be touchy.” She’s being extremely diplomatic. From my personal experience with church organists, many (if not most) church organists are most accurately described as los pendejos. I’ll never understand why most (from my experience) church organists behave as they do. I don’t know what it is about most church organists that cause them to be los pendejos. Is it the low salary or what? And most of them don’t seem to have actively listened to the services they’ve played for to have received the messages about: “christ’s love, mercy, compassion, love, kindness, understanding, forgiveness” and so forth. That all seems to have escaped them. If anything, most church organists are the opposite of all that. Los pendejos.
Also, from my experience, most church organists act childishly and are overly protective/possessive of the church organ as if they think even a well-trained organist is going to “break” the instrument. After years of dealing with these pendejos, I learned to approach church organists very cautiously and with “kid gloves” since many church organists seem to come with a chip on both shoulders for anyone asking to play
their the church’s organ. So I learned to be very cautious around them — an approach I never had to take with any other musicians really — and I made it clear to the organist that I wouldn’t think of changing any of their presets (thumb and toe pistons used for registration changes). But that wasn’t enough for them. Over time, I also came to not have much patience or even respect for los pendejos based on my previous experiences, but I tried not to let that show. I didn’t assume that any new organist I was approaching was like “all these other pendejos” I’d had the misfortune of dealing with. Ugh. I was always respectful to them although I didn’t get much respect in return due to their consistently difficult and abrasive personalities. I only went off on one organist locally in San Francisco because I had had it up to here with him and his nasty attitude and arrogance. He was the worst of all of them. Basura.
When I served as church organist in Anglican parishes, anyone who wanted to play the organ was welcome to play it. I did not take this childish possessive approach that many (most?) church organists take or this thinking that the person was going to “break it.” I didn’t feel threatened by other organists. It wasn’t my organ and even if it belonged to me (which is the false impression many church organists seem to have – that the organ belongs to them personally) I would have invited anyone to play it, including children to help inspire them. Maybe there’s some hidden talent there that needs to be discovered.
I’ve admired Diane Bish’s playing for years through her excellent programme, The Joy of Music, especially when she recorded in the cathedral churches of Europe, such as Ulm Minster (a Lutheran church located in Ulm, Alemania/ Deutschland/Germany, which is sometimes referred to as “Ulm Cathedral” because it looks like a cathedral but it’s not a cathedral because it has never been the seat of a bishop). Ulm Minster is one of my favorites (see video below). And Diane had an excellent camera crew with Haney Productions.
At her home, Diane Bish had a Rogers organ that was unfortunately lost in a fire around 2002, and I would guess she probably bought that before she began working with the Allen Organ Company for her Diane Bish Signature Series (DBSS) Digital Organs, which (from my understanding) consists of digital samplings of her favourite organs that she played on her programme from her recording sessions in Europe. She featured the DBSS Digital Organs on some of her later programmes. Diane always explains things well. I think she would make a superb organ/piano teacher.
Usually when Diane is mentioned on organ forums, someone brings up her suspected sexual orientation (la lesbiana) and the reasons why she left Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after the installation of the huge Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ the church installed using Diane’s specifications. Whether it’s true or not, I heard she had a falling out with Dr D James Kennedy, that bigoted/anti-gay, right-wing evangelical so-called “minister” they had when Diane was at Coral Ridge. And like anyone else’s sexuality, Diane’s sexuality should be irrelevant. But it’s the reaction to questions about her sexuality that I want to talk about here because I’m consistently annoyed by the reactions/responses to the questions about her sexuality and the reactions are always the same on these organ forums. The responses are consistently covertly anti-gay and often very naïve in their content. I don’t know where these organists live who comment on organ forums, perhaps some small hick town? They certainly don’t sound at all cosmopolitan in their comments.
The organists on message forums remind me of the prudish Classical Music Snots (CMS) I previously wrote about because the CMS respond the same way whenever the question about an artist’s sexuality comes up. The artist’s sexuality is supposed to remain “hush, hush” and “private” is their unspoken message (especially if the artist is suspected to be gay or lesbian), and all artists are assumed to be “straight”/heterosexual in their bigoted minds. Well I would like to point out that when one assumes that an artist is “straight” it is no longer making their sexuality a “private” matter. Instead, it is making the baseless assumption that the artist is sexually attracted to the other gender. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some of these people who say that Diane’s sexuality should be a “private” matter are the same people who are coming to pink barrio by searching: “Is Diane Bish a lesbian” or “Is Diane Bish married?” which contradicts their claim that her sexuality should be a “private” matter. Hypocrites. And making the baseless assumption that one is “straight” is very heteronormative thinking and ignores the many gay and lesbian people in our society including organist, in The Arts in general and our many contributions. The organist prudes on message forums respond as if it’s a crime to speculate about an artist’s sexuality. Because we live in a screwed-up heteronormative society, the organist prudes automatically want to assume and assert that Diane is “straight”/heterosexual whether she is or not, even though they know nothing about her sexuality. Personally, I think Diane is a “Member of the Club” meaning the GLBTQ club. But even if she’s not, what’s the harm in speculating that she is? There is nothing at all wrong with being gay or lesbian. The problem — lies in the minds of the prejudiced, bigoted organist prudes — in that speculating or saying that Diane is a lesbian somehow in their septic minds tarnishes her reputation as an artist because of the prudes’ anti-gay bigotry, but they never come right out and say this directly. They are very subtle and covert in their prejudiced, bigoted message. I would point out that people who are secure with themselves and their own sexuality and human sexuality in general don’t have these hang-ups against gays and lesbians/GLBTQs. I’m sick of it, which is why I decided to write about this. I should also point out that many church organists are gay closet cases in order to keep their church job because of the anti-gay hate climate espoused by their bigoted so-called “christian” church and the prejudices and hate for GLBTQs that their (closeted?) church clergy spew on a weekly basis wrapped in that bible. I’m not religious at all. I don’t believe in the Floating Cloud BeingTM, just as I don’t believe in Santa Claus or The Tooth Fairy. (Related: I’m an Anglican Atheist).
Although I don’t understand this obsession that people have with Diane Bish’s sexuality, I’m well aware that some people speculate about celebrities and artists sexuality from time-to-time, so in that context, why should Diane Bish be off limits? If one doesn’t have any prejudices or hang-ups about GLBTQ issues, there is no problem in speculating that she’s a lesbian, even if she’s not. What’s the big deal? Well, it’s only a big deal to the sick bigots who cringe when they hear or see the words “gay” or “lesbian” and who have a negative view of and prejudices about gays and lesbians. Many people assume that a celebrity is “straight” whether s/he is or not because we live in a very heteronormative society where “everyone” is assumed to be a breeder/straight. Why isn’t being assumed to be straight seen as negative or “tarnishing to the celebrity’s reputation” when the celebrity is really gay or lesbian?
I wish everybody would come out of the closet and stop living a lie — and stop pretending to be “straight” when you’re not — and stop hiding behind that unhealthy, moldy closet door. Imagine how organised religion would change if all GLBTQs came out of the closet, including the hypocritical clergy who are constantly spewing an anti-gay message in many churches while they themselves are gay. Hypocrites!
In the minds of non-prejudiced people, gay and lesbian/GLBTQ are on an equal standing with “straight”/heterosexual. But these prudish organists — which again I include in the Classical Music Snots’ group — on message forums have this not-so-subtle anti-gay thinking that they write in their comments. They also imply that gay artists are lesser people and lesser artists and that their being gay somehow takes away from the artists, when really it’s just the opposite. Many, many artists are gay and they come in different flavours of art, including musicians (organists). Some of these organist pendejos would say: “I’m not anti-gay; some of my best friends are gay.” LOL. Well isn’t that wonderful! So good to hear! Yes of course they are, yes, I’m sure, and now you’re playing the “Some of My Best Friends are Gay” CardTM to hide behind while you spew your anti-gay message/prejudices.
Someone said in a comment on that organ forum I was reading, trying to prove that Diane is “straight” the person wrote: “I saw Diane’s husband on the programme once.” No, I don’t think you did. I suspect you’re making that up for your anti-gay Heteronormative AgendaTM. I know her programmes well. I watched them for years. I’ve watched all of her programmes that were broadcasts over the years and I’ve watched them many times — and I assume all of her programmes were broadcast — and I’ve never seen anyone identified as her husband on The Joy of Music, ever. She had her mother and father on the programme a couple of times. After they died, she dedicated a programme to each of them. She accompanied her sister (a flautist as I recall) on the organ in one programme, but there was never anyone identified as Diane Bish’s husband on the programme. Somebody is making that up to fit their anti-gay agenda.
I’ve read that Diane lives with harpist Susann McDonald, her partner, but I don’t know if that’s true. Susann was featured on the programme several times (harp and organ). But in those instances, Suzann was not identified as Diane’s partner but rather, “Suzann McDonald, harpist.” Then one anti-gay bigot wrote that he was sure that Diane and Suzanne live in a big house, in separate quarters and “it makes sense to share resources.” *roll eyes* Ugh.
My response: Oh yes, I’m “sure” they never see each other even though they live in the same house. I’m “sure” they’re on separate floors and the floors are not at all connected in any way, and they avoid any contact with each other so not to give the “appearance to anyone that they might be lesbians. You wouldn’t want that!” I’m “sure” they communicate only by e-mail, no? Bigot! In reality: What’s the problem with them living together in a small house, if that’s the case, Mr/Ms Anti-Gay Bigot? I suspect the person I’m responding to knows absolutely nothing about their house, just as I don’t, other than I think they live in Indianapolis from what I read. But them living together is a problem to the anti-gay crowd. They like to sanitise artists that they admire by pretending that artists are all “straight” or that their sexuality should remain private. Why should it remain private, necessarily? It is because they are GLBTQ and that requires it to remain “private” and “hush, hush” because you personally have “issues,” hang-ups and prejudices when it comes to gays and lesbians? Get some psychotherapy, pendejos. And I’d like to point out that it’s very common for people who are anti-gay and/or have GLBTQ hang-ups and prejudices to be gay themselves and they use that anti-gay hate rhetoric to hide/disguise their own gay sexuality that they’re ashamed of. That is extremely common. But if an artist is “straight” the bigots don’t have any trouble talking about that and “their wife” or “their husband” and their multiple children, correct? Most church organists are los pendejos. From my own experience, they have the worst reputation of any musicians I’ve ever worked with. Basura.
One bigot wrote this about Diane and Suzanne allegedly living together (I’ve made slight edits for copyright purposes):
“….two women or two men living together means nothing more than they share the same address. Until one of them comes forward with different information, the christian position would be to view the situation in the light most favorable to those involved. Doing less is evil and slanderous….”
Translation of that mierda: “The light most favorable” = they’re heterosexual. Suspecting they’re lesbians is = evil and slanderous? How very innocent and implied-heteronormative of you, Mr/Ms Bigot. And what would you know about “the christian position,” pendejo? Diane and Suzanne couldn’t possibly be lesbians because there is something wrong with being a lesbian in your sick mind and that wouldn’t make the “light most favorable” to them to assume they’re GLBTQ, no?
Another bigot wrote:
“Her playing is of the highest order. Her personal life is questionable. My source that did work for her and someone else associated closely with her related what I would characterize as highly uncomplimentary information. Whether factual or false cannot be known.”
My response: “Why is her personal life questionable, Mr/Ms Bigot? Is it because she’s not with a man? And “Highly uncomplimentary information” = gay/lesbian? Sigh. Oh lord, what out-back, backwater cesspool of a hick town do these bigoted basura church organists come from?
One more bigot showed up and wrote this:
“Two professional musicians combining resources makes perfect sense and there is no reason to assume that Diane Bish wears flannel and watches the Ellen show regularly.”
My response: Your not-so-covert anti-gay comment is noted. And what would you know about the Ellen Show and flannel? Do tell! Tell us all about it, por favor. And are you another closet case? Frankly, I think you’re all closet cases with your anti-gay comments and as I wrote earlier, that is so typical. Why don’t you all come out of the closet and stop living a lie? Then you wouldn’t need to rush to the defence of Diane Bish because someone questions that she’s a lesbian, pendejo.
Also, the implication from these organist bigots/prudes is that the artist couldn’t possibly be gay or lesbian because the artist plays so well. That’s the inference they make, and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of all these septic, bigoted, prejudiced people. They are the scum of the Earth. This includes some of the organists that belong to the AGO organisation. Question: Is the AGO a religious organisation or a secular organisation for organists? Isn’t it supposed to be a secular organisation? Some organists only concertise and have nothing to do with religious organisations and they are members of the AGO. But some people rightly question whether the AGO is a religious organisation or not. They (the AGO) certainly act like it. I’ve seen scripture verses in their newsletters. What does scripture verses have to do with organ playing and organists?
Who knew that so many organists are bigots? Although at the conservatory where I trained, fortunately none of the organ students were bigoted or anti-gay to my knowledge and we had several out-of-the-closet gay organ students. Maybe I was just lucky in that regard with the school I chose.
For organ students, the way it usually works is that a person majors or minors in organ at the Conservatory or School of Music where one trains. Most organ students don’t own their own pipe organ because pipe organs are very expensive. Digital organs are expensive too, but they’re generally cheaper than most pipe organs that a church would consider installing. One can get (what I call) a podunk organ to get one through: That’s an electronic organ (not a Digital Organ) with probably two manuals and a full pedal board, which is absolutely necessary. But if an organ student has neither, what is one to do? One can contact a local church — preferably one with a good pipe organ — and look into practising on their organ. Good luck with that option! I tried that approach here in San Francisco many years ago and I got no where with it. I wanted to work on some French organ works. One piece was Henri Mulet’s toccata Tu es petra and I had already worked on the manual parts by practising them on the piano. I just needed to learn the pedal work and possibly perform that and other French organ works. So I sent out some very nice and polite letters to church organists asking if it might be possible for me to practise on the church’s organ. The response was overwhelming. I just couldn’t handle it all. [sarcasm intended]. I didn’t get anywhere with any of them. I never heard back from most of them. I didn’t contact the cathedral churches because I figured that would be impossible. One organist responded and he essentially said “no.” But I gently pushed him about it because it wasn’t a definite “no,” and he then said that the church makes it difficult for him to use the organ and practise. That must be some church! In my letter, I had offered to work around their church schedule and I offered to pay them something for use of the organ. And of course I wrote a little bit about my background/training. But none of that mattered to them. Mi amigo/My friend said that some of the organists probably thought that my real intent was to steal their church job from them — (as he said) “especially if you play better than they do with your more advanced repertoire, such as your French toccatas — they may have thought you were trying to come in through the “back door.” Yes, that could have been the case, even though that was not at all my intent.
Does anyone wonder why the organ field is dying? It might be because church organists and others don’t encourage or do anything to help trained organist stay in the field.
My childhood experience with church organists was no different. Nothing has changed in this regard in all these years. Only 3-4 organists that I can think of in my entire musical experience were nice to me, and two of them I never met (if that makes sense; I only had indirect contact with them). At my home church that my parents took us to the organist controlled/”ramrodded” the music there and eventually she appointed me organist — the church had an Allen electronic organ with a 13-pedal pedalboard which became frustrating to play due to the limited pedalboard — because I was training in organ and she had never studied organ. One other small local church had an organist and she was wonderful to me. Very nice. Whenever I visited her church (usually one or twice during the Summer), she wanted me to play the organ because she said, “You play so much better than I do.” (I never heard that from any other organists, and I appreciated the compliment but I thought she played well). But she insisted I play. She wasn’t at all possessive of the instrument and didn’t think I would “break it.”
Surprisingly (in hindsight), I had the best experiences with the larger churches in town that had nice pipe organs. I filled in for one church organist in town on occasion and that church had just installed a beautiful new large pipe organ up in the back of their Nave. I never met that organist; all our contact was either by phone or through my high school Chorus Director (I forget which) who went to the same church, as to where the key for the organ was. Then the organist at another church down the street with a nice pipe organ didn’t hesitant having me play their organ on occasion. I didn’t have any personal contact with her either; she had sent word to me where the key for the organ was. I had done some piano accompanying for a musical group in her church so that may have had something to do with her laid-back approach to me. Also, with both of those organists their informal approach may have been because they knew of me as the piano accompanist for the High School Chorus. That probably had something to do with it. But all other organists I had the misfortune of dealing with were the opposite of those 3-4. All others were los pendejos. And I have never met any other musicians in my musical experiences that acted like church organists. They really are a very different breed altogether.
Today, I would like to perform organ works (French toccatas: the Widor, Mulet Tu es petra), some Anglican hymns I like, and anything else I wanted to play — Jehan Alain’s Litanies and the organ works of Herbert Howells, those are some examples — if I had a good organ to practise on. But I’m not interested in serving as church organist these days. That’s too much of a commitment for such pathetic pay. And do all churches adhere to the AGO’s salary guidelines for church musicians? I don’t think so. I think only certain churches do (those wanting to be considered “respectable?”). And church job openings that pay anything with a good pipe organ are rare. More and more churches seem to be moving away from “traditional” organ music and dumbing down to “praise bands” and abandoning their hymnals. It also seems silly to have a commitment to a church job just to have an organ to practise on, and the only denomination I would be interested in serving as organist for is within the Anglican Communion, because that’s my background and I also like their Liturgy and depending upon the parish they are pro-GLBTQ. But excluding Anglicans, most christian denominations would likely expect one to be religious — if not be a member of their church — and be one of their sheeple. No gracias.
Like most of the classical music field, I think the organ field is slowly dying and I can see why. In many ways it’s their own fault. Because most church organists and/or their church put up this wall blocking anyone from having access to their organ other than their own organist. So I gave up on the idea of performing on the organ long ago.
Ever since the US Supreme Court ruling legalising same-gender/gay marriage here in the US/Los Estados Unidos, we have been told repeatedly by wishful-thinking GLBTQs that, “Gay Is Now Mainstream.” Ha! Yeah sure it is. Dream on. I don’t think being gay will ever be mainstream, at least not within my lifetime when we have basura like these bigoted and prejudiced church organists around and there are thousands of other bigoted and prejudiced people just like them. Chau.—el barrio rosa
In the comments below this video (which maybe one should not read), there are some Classical Music Snots that showed up — they always do show up as the self-appointed authorities — to give us all their omnipotent critique of Diane’s playing with multiple things supposedly being wrong with her playing, according to omnipotent them. To people like that I like to say: Could you kindly provide us all with a link to your performance of the piece to show us all how it should be played (according to omnipotent you)? That usually shuts los pendejos up. The way I see it: If you don’t like somebody’s performance of a piece, go watch somebody else play it until you find somebody that can satisfy you, if that’s at all possible. I see no point in saying “this is wrong and that is wrong and this over here is wrong.” The performance is over people, so whatever was “wrong” (according to these septics) will remain wrong. And I’ve noticed that some of these Classical Music Snot idiots do a “measure by measure” critique of what was wrong with someone’s performance, again, according to them. I can’t stand the Classical Music Snots. Enjoy Diane’s performances. She plays beautifully. She’s very talented.