An Organist’s Christmas – Concert 12/7/12

Ted and I attended the concert entitled An Organist’s Christmas on 12/07/2012 at the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor., MI It was presented by the Ann Arbor Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the First Music and Art Series.  The church is large and beautiful with stone and woodwork and stained glass windows. The organ was initially installed by W. W. Kimball Co. in 1940. Additional stops and pipes were added in 1958 by the Reuter Organ Co. Reuter also provided a new console in 1988. This organ has 3 manuals and pedals and 44 ranks of pipes. The organ specifications in the program listed each stops and the number of pipes associated with them and indicated which pipes were Kimball pipes. The organ was recently renovated by the Renaissance Pipe Organ Company.  

Pipe Organ at First United Methodist Church – Ann Arbor, MI

The church had a big screen at the front of the church. This is likely used to display words to songs and sermon notes during services. During this concert it would serve a different purpose, showing close ups of the organist playing the organ! There were 3 or 4 different views. One zoomed in on the organists hands on the keyboards. Another view was at a wider angle where we could see the organist and their feet and hands. Then another view of just the pedals allowing the audience to see the fascinating footwork. The technical crew seemed to know just when to switch views!

There were 3 organists: David Hufford, Marcia Van Oyen, and Thomas Strode. The first piece played by David was played by memory! Marcia played an interesting piece called – “Variations sur un Noël” by Marcel Dupré . It consisted of about 10 variations each sounding unique. The finale was spectacular! Thomas played a chorale prelude along with violinist Kathryn Votapek and the Boy Choir of Ann Arbor.

Each organist played 3 or 4 pieces with the last being a hymn with singing by congregation and with the boy choir. Prior to playing the hymn, Thomas and David both played variations on the hymn they were about to play. David played “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and Thomas played “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. It was very interesting hear the variations followed immediately by the traditional version one would expect to hear. Marcia’s hymn was “Once in Royal David’s City.”  Hearing the voices of the congregation and the boy choir along with the organ was wonderful.

Overall the concert was very enjoyable and I encourage you to attend Christmas concerts that feature the pipe organ.


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Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

3 thoughts on “An Organist’s Christmas – Concert 12/7/12”

  1. Wow Heidi…This sounds like a super nice evening.
    Some of us need to get more serious about attending these concerts with you. Bet even Ted enjoyed it.


  2. It sounds like it was a wonderful concert! The church is beautiful, and how neat to have the screen showing the organists play, too.


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