“[Merckel’s Variations on a Theme of Beethoven] is not as well known as his nine organ sonatas, but makes a fine recital piece, or individual variations can stand on their own as service pieces.” —Kenneth Udy, The Diapason, April 2014 (read the review)
What do you get a church that has never had a pipe organ? St Mary’s Catholic Church in the Isle of Man got a venerable organ, small and sweet, and with stenciled pipes. See above photo! Dr Peter Litman recently played a concert there.
The organ itself is small, with only five stops, but has an interesting history, said Peter Jones, who along with his team, carried out the pipe-organ’s renovation.
‘A date of 1869 on part of the mechanism could be, either the date when it was made, or the date of a significant repair, making it at least 145 years old,’ he said. It was previously installed in the chapel at The Nunnery, in Douglas, by H. W. Hewitt, an organ-builder from Leicester, who was responsible for a number of small instruments on the island, many of which are still in use.
“Version 3.9 of WordPress, named “Smith” in honor of jazz organist Jimmy Smith, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. This release features a number of refinements that we hope you’ll love.” If you follow the link, you can watch a short video explaining the new version with some organ music in the background.
I, and several of my blog readers, use WordPress for their blogs. It’s a terrific surprise that the folks at WordPress honored the great jazz organist in this way. Just this month, I asked a competent black organist if he admired Jimmy Smith, and he had never even heard of him. What a shame. Maybe this will help a little.
You may know that Bob Moody has a blog where he posts his organ playing. In his post for April 6, I found where he had used The Last Supper from “Bible Poems” in the service. They’re not just for concert use! Here is Bob’s note for the composer:
“Jaromír Weinberger was born in Prague and emigrated to the United States in 1921. He started piano study at age five and was composing and conducting by age 10. For a while he taught composition at the Ithica Conservatory in New York State. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1926 where he was appointed director of the National Theater. He fled the Nazis and came to the United States in 1939 and became a citizen in 1948. He is best known for his opera “Schwanda the Bagpiper.” His dramatic “Bible Poems” were written in 1939 and reflect the gathering war clouds over Europe. The Last Supper, foreshadowing the events of Good Friday, is one of the movements of this suite for organ.”
Here’s an unusual story about presenting the music of Bach in Hillsboro, Oregon. How many mention Bach’s daughter and his two wives in relation to his music?
“Organist Jeannine Jordan breathed life into the women in composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s life March 30 in Hillsboro. Lincoln City resident Jeannine Jordan, who accompanies the St. Bedes Episcopal Church choir in Forest Grove, performed an organ concert in Hillsboro last Sunday.”
“Using her acting skills and her musical talent to present ‘Bach and Sons,’ a multimedia organ concert at Rodgers Instruments Corp., Jordan opened her performance with the labored strains of Toccata in D Minor, transporting her audience to the 18th century to meet Bach’s benefactor, his two wives and his daughter.”
From Auckland, New Zealand, comes this great story of the Town Hall Organ and one person who has a real connection to the past.
“Orakei Local Board chairwoman and trustee Desley Simpson is equally passionate about organ music. Simpson has run the APPA Music Festival at the Town Hall for primary and intermediate pupils for the past 30 years. She learned to play the instrument at Diocesan School for Girls at the age of 15 because of a family connection.”
“Her great, great, great uncle, former mayor Sir Henry Brett donated the Town Hall organ to the city in 1911 for the opening of the building.”
How’s that for an historical connection!
Thank you to the readers of this, my organ blog. Every view and click causes Google to ad a few cents to my account, and I get the check (at $100 minimum) a few times per year.
How do I use the money? I use it for licenses and royalties and commissions for organ music. So, I you click on Twitter and Facebook links, you are helping, so thank you!
I don’t normally say this, but I don’t like Peter Dobrin’s review in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Do you see the photo above? This is the very fine conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, who often directs operas at The Metropolitan in New York City — not Fred. Was Fred the organist for the Saint-Saëns? No, the organist was Michael Stairs. So, the headline writer, who was probably not Peter, decided that everyone would know that the name of the magnificent organ in Verizon Hall was “Fred J Cooper Memorial Organ.” Oh.
Here’s what he wrote about the most famous and most often heard work for organ and orchestra: “… the instrument had exactly the power and scope of timbres you want from an instrument that must compete with something pushing out as much sound as the Philadelphia Orchestra. Organist Michael Stairs curated a beautiful spread of tone qualities in this battle of the plush.” This is the entire comment on the ‘Organ Symphony.’
I hope it gets to radio quickly so I can hear it for myself.
Here’s a video that will give you a little background on Michael Stairs, the beloved organist for the orchestra and Westminster Choir College alumnus.
There was no photo of this organ in the article, so I will recommend that you peruse the photos and details in a PDF from plymouthorganists.org. The article doesn’t provide a builder or other history, and you can find it there. Please help us to understand the situation here, if you can this story of a very old organ in Plymouth that really needs some attention.
“The future of one of the city’s oldest musical instruments hangs in the balance while a committee fights for the funding to restore it. Built in 1875, the Blitz-surviving organ, which features important 18th Century pipework, now sits abandoned in the corner of a derelict church – St Simon’s in Mount Gould.”
“It was awarded a Grade II* by the Historic Organ Certificate Scheme in 2012, which is given to particularly important organs of more than special interest. Some members of the Plymouth and District Organists’ Association hope to restore and rehabilitate the instrument and to convert St Gabriel’s Church in Peverell into a concert venue to house the organ.”
“Five students studying organ at Indiana University of Pennsylvania — Benjamin Bugaile, Nicholas George Capone, Andrew Milliken, Nina Parra and Evan Marshall Snyder — recently had the opportunity to play the pipe organ in Heinz Memorial Chapel in Pittsburgh.”
Read about these students who traveled to the University of Pittsburgh for the opportunity to play the Reuter organ.