Concert Archives - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Concert"

December 7, 2015

Kicking off the Christmas 2015 season

First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor

The first weekend in December has become one of my favorite weekends of the year. On the Friday of this weekend, Ted and I have made it a tradition to attend The Organist’s Christmas presented by the Ann Arbor AGO. Then on the Sunday, I attend the Lessons and Carols service at Adrian College. Some years we also squeeze in Handel’s Messiah which is usually performed this same weekend in Ann Arbor and Toledo.

First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor

First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor

The Organist’s Christmas

This year, the program was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Over 250 people enjoyed the program. Three organists played a few selections each. The Boy Choir of Ann Arbor sang an anthem and they also sang along with all of the hymns. The organ was front and center flanked by beautiful Christmas trees.

My favorite piece was the Richard Purvis arrangement of Greensleeves as it brought me back to my youth. Back then I was playing clarinet in my 8th grade band and we played an arrangement of Greensleeves. I also enjoyed hearing so many people sang the Christmas hymns!

A Service of Lessons and Carols

I decided to go early this year after sitting next to chatty college students in the back couple of rows last year. This year I sat in row 5! I had 45 minutes to wait but it was worth it as the people seated near me were not distracting.

Adrian College Lessons and Carols

Adrian College Lessons and Carols

Before the service began the Adrian College Orchestra played several Christmas songs. At the start of the service the choir filed in for the back (while singing). The pipe organ was played along with the hymns and the Hallelujah Chorus. The organ blended well with the orchestra. I am still amazed by the power of the pipe organ. Its music was not drowned out by the orchestra.

Both concerts made for a delightful way to kick off the Christmas season!

How do you kick of the Christmas season?

September 28, 2015

A Festival of Hymns at Pease Auditorium

A Festival of Hymns at Pease Auditorium

I love hymns and the pipe organ! Yesterday, my mom and and I enjoyed A Festival of Hymns at Pease Auditorium at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

A Festival of Hymns

The festival was the first event for the 2015-2016 season for the Ann Arbor chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The theme of the concert was “Singing the Psalms of the Life”. There was also a choir assembled from volunteer participants that rehearsed a couple of hours before the concert began. Michael Burkhardt was the organist.

This was the first time I was able to go to the Hymn Festival as in past years its conflicted with a vacation. Also, for the first time for my mom traveled to an organ presentation with. We had fun getting there as well. The drive took longer than expected as we were forced to take a scenic route around a parade. Thankfully, we left early and arrived in time to use the bathroom before taking our seats.

A Festival of Hymns at Pease Auditorium

A Festival of Hymns at Pease Auditorium

The program included hymns and a few readings. Each Hymn was a Psalm or based on Psalm. In total the program was about a hour. The organ sounded magnificent from the first note.

The combination of a well played organ with the choir gave me goosebumps several times during the performance. Mom and I were familiar with some of the hymns and we enjoyed those that were new to us. Mr. Burkhardt is an excellent organist. There was also a young man playing the trumpet for a few of the hymns and a young lady played the oboe with the organ for 1 hymn.


One of the hymns was “From All That Dwell Below the Skies” played to the tune LASST UNS ERFREUEN. I felt proud to be able to lean over and tell my mom that I could play this one! I have learned to play “All Creatures of Our God and King” which is played to the same tune (and in a difference key in my hymnal). Mr. Burkhardt played a more complicated version than what is in my hymnal, but I still felt accomplished knowing I had played this hymn successfully in the past.

Kilala came to the organ bench while I was attempting to play "All Creatures of Our God and King" to the tune of LASST UNS ERFREUEN

Kilala came to the organ bench while I was attempting to play “All Creatures of Our God and King” to the tune of LASST UNS ERFREUEN

I was inspired to practice because of the concert, knowing that some day I will be playing the organ and leading the signing of the choir and congregation. However, my run through of “All Creatures of Our God and King” at home last night did not go well. In the past I was able to play it from memory. Too much time has elapsed and my muscle memory forgotten. I struggled to play it through. I will spend some time remembering it and relearning as I love this tune!

A few weeks ago, Katherine Crosier featured me in her article about Adult Beginners. Read it here.

January 29, 2015

St. Tim’s Discovers – Michael Gartz Organ Concert at St. Rose

Michael Gartz plays the organ at St. Rose Catholic Church, Perrysburg, OH
Michael Gartz plays the organ at St. Rose Catholic Church, Perrysburg, OH

Michael Gartz plays the organ at St. Rose Catholic Church, Perrysburg, OH

Last Saturday evening (for date night) my husband, Ted, and I enjoyed dinner out and then a delightful organ concert at St. Rose Catholic Church.

This concert was part the St. Tim’s Discovers series which is a program of Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Perrysburg, OH.

Their mission is Bringing Classical Music to the Community Through the Church. The organist was my teacher, Michael Gartz. Also performing were soprano Cheryl Babb and trombonist Phil Smith.

The St. Rose Pipe Organ

St. Rose organ manuals

The St. Rose organ

The pipe organ at St. Rose is the only pipe organ in Perrysburg, OH. And it was built in 1873! I was not able to locate a stop list or pictures of the organ on the St. Rose website.

There does not seem to be much information available about this historic instrument. The organ was extensively refurbished in 1975-76 by D. F. Pilzecker & Company, Organ Builders of Toledo.

What to look at?

We arrived at the church early and discovered the organ is in the balcony. This made for interesting discussion on the drive home as what do you look at when the organist and other performers are behind you?

I looked at the details in the ceiling and Jesus on the cross. I could see His ribs. My church doesn’t have Jesus on the cross, so I tend to check Him out when at a church that does have Him on the cross.

I was also tempted to close my eyes and focus only on the music but I didn’t want anyone to think I was sleeping!

The Program

Michael Gartz St. Rose Organ ConcertThe program was about a hour in length without intermission. The time flew by which I feel is a sign of how much I enjoyed the music.

What I really liked about the program was the variety. I love solo organ but I also love hearing it accompany voice and along with other instruments.

This may have been the first time I heard “Let the Bright Seraphim” by G. F. Handel (definitely first time in a live performance). This was my favorite piece of the evening. Cheryl Babb has an amazing voice. Phil Smith also played the trombone.

If you are not familiar with this piece I found a recording of it on YouTube here. This is NOT a recording from Saturday’s concert.

The final piece – “Sonata No. 3 in C minor” by Alexandre Guilmant was a treat. I felt like a could feel the music going through me. I encourage everyone to attend live organ concerts for this very reason. Feeling the vibrations from the organ is not something that can be replicated when listening to a recording or watching a video!

Overall, it was a an entertaining program. Others in the audience seemed to enjoy it as well and Michael is an outstanding organist!

Do you enjoy live organ concerts? If you’ve never been to a live concert I encourage you to do so. It could give you a new appreciation for the instrument and those that play it.

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How to find a pipe organ concert in your area.

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