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December means holiday concerts and I love them. I’ve attended 3 concerts this December all of which included the pipe organ. The sound a congregation singing Christmas corals along with the pipe organ fills me with joy.
On December 5, my husband and I went to An Organist’s Christmas presented by the Ann Arbor chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Ann Arbor First Music and Art Series. It was at the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor. Unlike previous years, the Boy Choir of Ann Arbor was not part of the program. This year it was only organists. Three different organists took the stage: James Kibbie, Kola Owolabi, and Michael Burkhardt.
As you may imagine, Christmas music was played. Dr. Michael Burkhardt played Bach’s chorale prelude Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland (BWV 659). Then we sang the carol Savior of the Nations, Come which is played to the tune Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland. I found this particularly interesting as I wondered how often chorale preludes are played to introduce the hymn they are a prelude on when I started learning Helmut Walcha’s chorale prelude of Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen.
On December 7, I attended the annual Lessons and Carols service at Adrian College. What I love about this event is that is nearly filled to capacity. The orchestra played a pre-service concert consisting of (wait for it) Christmas music. I was a bit distracted by some female college students that thought this was a good time to giggle and wave at a man in the orchestra. I was pleased when they left before the Lessons and Carols began. Next year, I will arrive earlier and sit closer to the front with the “old” people.
The orchestra played most of the music for the service, but the pipe organ was played for the Hymns (Carols) and Handel’s “Hallelujah!” from “Messiah. The service ended with each person’s candle lit while singing “Silent Night”.
The Adrian College pipe organ is the first pipe organ that I ever played!
On December 12, I went to The Ypsilanti’s Pipe Organ Festival’s holiday concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti. This concert consisted of duets for the organ and piano. The piano was played by Gary Powell and the organ by Stephen Schnurr, both have impressive backgrounds. Christmas music was also played at this concert! A couple of the pieces were piano duets. Gary was also entertaining when speaking in between pieces. It was a very enjoyable and delightful concert.
The combination of piano and organ together reminded me of my childhood where this was done at my church most Sundays. I have not visited a church recently where this occurs, but Gary said it is a very common practice in Baptist churches. Perhaps, I should visit a a Baptist church!
Neither musician played from memory. What I noticed was that Stephen, the organist, had a page turner for most of his pieces while Gary, the pianist, turned his own pages on all pieces except for one! Does this mean that turning ones own pages is easier for a pianist than an organist?
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and are able to enjoy some holiday concerts. I also enjoyed the Lights at the Toledo Zoo. (no pipe organ there!)
Last Sunday, April 15, 2012, I traveled to the First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI for a pipe organ concert. My friend, Arwana from church, drove along with me as she also enjoys organ music. According to their website, the church was built in the mid 1857 and remodeled in 1899. The front entrances have grand wooden doors. Inside, the crown modeling is magnificent along with the beautiful stained glass windows. The pews are wooden (but have cushions) with detailed carvings on the pew ends. The pews also have a slight curve to them.
The concert was put on by the Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival and featured students of Dr. James Kibbie from the University of Michigan. The program was design was interesting as four students performed one piece each in the first half of the program. Then after intermission five students (the same four as first half of program plus one more) each played one of the five movements of Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony VI in G Minor. This symphony is bold, powerful, and captivating
Overall, the program was very enjoyable and the students preformed very well. Unlike me, these students have been playing for many years with most starting on piano and/or organ at a young age. And although students, several are already successful organists holding position with churches and performing recitals.
John Woolsey played Free Fantasia on “O Zion, Haste” and “How Firm a Foundation” by Willian Bolcom as his stand alone piece. This piece left me feeling a bit disconcerted and I wondered if this was the composer’s intent and if I was the only one that felt this way!
The third movement – Intermezzo – of Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony VI in G Minor was performed by memory by Mathew Dempsey. He was the only student to play a piece from memory during the program.
Below is a photo of the organ and console. There are several pictures of the organ from when it was rededicated in on 2009 after being refurbished on the church’s photo page.
|Pipe Organ at First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti, MI|