Bradley Welch Plays Fort Worth’s New V/160 (video)

First Methodist’s New Organ Dedication Concert

Toccata in B Minor Eugene Gigout (1844-1925)

Variations on “O laufet, Ihr Hirten” Max Drischner (1891-1971)
(“O Run, You Shepherds!”)

Passacaglia (and Fugue) Johann Sebastian Bach
in C Minor, BWV 582 (1685-1750)

Pastorale from Raymond Haan (born 1938)
“Three Lyric Pieces”

Fanfare (Psalm) John Cook (1918-1984)

Come, Sweetest Death, Johann Sebastian Bach
Come, Blessed Rest setting by Virgil Fox (1912-1980)

Congregational Hymn Lobe den Herren
“Praise is the Beautiful Song” text by John Thornburg
**Commissioned in gratitude of Dan Garland’s artistry, dedication, and friendship**

Chorale Fantasy on Aaron David Miller
Lobe den Herren (2010) (born 1972)
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
**Composed for Dr. Bradley Hunter Welch**

The specification is on Dan Garland’s site: garlandpipeorgans.com/first-united-methodist-church-fort-worth-texas/

Also, see organsociety.org/database/SingleOrganDetails.php?OrganID=21372.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Ambrosino on Organs in Concert Halls

Concert Hall Organs: Some Thoughts

Read this fine article by Jonathan Ambrosino in the Boston Musical Intelligencer about organs in concert halls. (Enough said.)

BMInt asked organ historian Jonathan Ambrosino to contribute a discussion of the BSO organ and concert hall brethren as part of our our coverage of the upcoming premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra “Ascending Light,” commissioned by Gomidas Organ Fund in memory of long-time BSO organist Berj Zamkochian and in commemoration of the 100th anniversary the Armenian genocide.

Be sure to read the end of the article, “And of the Future of Concert Hall Organs?” for some clearly stated views of what many of us believe.

Posted in Education/Information | 1 Comment

Happy 330th Birthday to You-know-who

Bash Celebrating Bach’s Birthday Shows Off Power of Organ

Each year, I marvel at the broad attention paid to the one and only composer of the organ, Johann Sebastian Bach. In 2015, his is the only anniversary that has attracted the huge attention of those organ fans and organ posters who otherwise never come from the shadows. It is obviously not the intention of those in the media to publicize or ignore particular organ composers, but it has always struck me that this is tantamount to the only significant exposure and publicity for the piano being due to Beethoven or for violin being due to Paganini. That being expressed, enjoy this post which has done nothing wrong … <g>

At the triple-deck keyboard of the massive pipe organ, Knutson danced her feet over the pedals to deliver the blasting bass notes of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” the most famous organ work in the Baroque master’s repertoire. With deft fingers, she quickly worked the stops to give full throat to the organ’s towering silver pipes as she played the repeating melody on three different divisions.

For the 100-plus listeners and players gathered Sunday at St. John’s Lutheran Church in midtown Sacramento, the familiar fugue, along with several other Bach organ works, became their own variation of “Happy Birthday.” Billed as “Bachathon,” the Sunday concert brought together organists and music lovers to play Bach, hear Bach and celebrate Bach close to the 330th anniversary of his birth.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Concert Study: New Recording

Concert Study

I’ve added a new recording for you to hear of Pietro Yon’s “Concert Study” — which was followed by “Second Concert Study” when he produced a second one after enormous praise for the first. There is a link to the video in case you would like to watch.

Concert Study

Second Concert Study

Posted in Concert, Recordings | 1 Comment

Christmas in Sicily: New Recording

Christmas in Sicily

I’ve added a new recording for you to hear of Pietro Yon’s “Christmas in Sicily.” There is a link to the video in case you would like to watch.

Christmas in Sicily

Posted in Church, Concert, Recordings | Leave a comment

$120,000 Needed for Marr and Colton

Arcada Theatre Organ Plays Once More before Restoration

The Arcada Theatre in St Charles, Illinois, has a III/16 Marr and Colton, and Taylor Trimby played a concert before work on it began: “The 89-year-old organ will be undergoing a full restoration overseen by CATOE starting this spring, and a major fundraiser will be started to help pay for it.”

“‘Part of our restoration is to put it back into concert-ready state so we can do silent movies and do things with orchestras and choirs and bands,’ Trimby said. ‘At one time there were hundreds, every theater had one. Now there such a few left that we want to make sure that these things are kept for future generations.'”

Get more details about the organ at catoe.org.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

“The Heavens Heard Him,” the Story of Pietro Yon

It Is A Boon to Have It Now Available

Last November, Rollin Smith was kind enough to send me an article from The New York Times of March 30, 1942. It contained the only photo I have ever seen of Pietro Yon’s son, Mario. I posted it then, and I’m pleased that he chose to review The Heavens Heard Him in the April issue of The American Organist.

VERA B. HAMMANN AND MARIO C. YON: THE HEAVENS HEARD HIM. 192 pp. Available as a PDF from michaelsmusicservice.com. $9; available from Amazon on Kindle, $9.99. Published in 1963, this is subtitled “A Novel Based on the Life of Pietro Yon (1886–1943).” Mario was Pietro Yon’s son and only child and, in 1951, the foreign trade consultant in the New York Regional Office of Price Stabilization. He had studied the organ, and in a student recital had played one of the Bach eight little preludes and fugues. Evidently, he provided the information and Vera Hammann wrote the book in what T. Scott Buhrman, editor of The American Organist, described in a 1964 review as a “noticeably overdone style.” The subject of the book is enough to whet the appetite of any organist, and, since the book did not have much currency, it is a boon to have it now available as either PDF or on Kindle. A print version is not available, but if you order the PDF, you can print it out.

Pietro Yon was a native of Settimo Vittone, a small town in northwestern Italy. As a child, he studied piano with the local cathedral organist, and by the age of 14 had entered the Royal Conservatory in Milan, where he studied with Polibio Fumagalli; the next year, he won a scholarship to the Turin Conservatory, where he studied organ with Roberto Remondi and composition with Giovanni Boizoni (of Minuet fame). At 18, he entered the St. Cecilia Academy in Rome and graduated with every honor, having studied organ with Remigio Renzi and piano with Giovanni Sgambati, a noted Liszt pupil. In 1907, he came to America his brother Constantino, a singer, had preceded him) and became organist of the Jesuit church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City. He was a brilliant virtuoso with a certain gift for composition (Christmas in Sicily and a Toccata, 1912; First Concert Study, 1913; First Sonata, 1916; and, of course, Gesù Bambino, 1917), and knew the value of publicity — he gave 24 paid-admission organ recitals in the concert halls of New York (a total that is difficult to document).

This is not an easy book to review, considering that it diverts from the facts so often and is, of course, a paean from a loving son to his father’s memory. In addition to several tear-jerking sequences, there is an over-abundance of Italian clichés and phrases to keep up the paisano flavor, the misconception that an artist has arrived when asked to play in Carnegie Hall (as though the hall were not rented and the publicity paid for), and an elevation of Yon’s Mass of the Shepherds to the stature of the B-Minor Mass (check out a performance on YouTube), not to mention a preposterous scene of His Eminence Cardinal Hayes going backstage after a recital at Carnegie Hall to invite Yon to become his organist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (no mention of his predecessor, Jacques Ungerer, who was informed by letter of the loss of his job while on vacation during the summer of 1928 — another of those “be careful who you hire as an assistant” situations). There is neither mention of Yon’s wedding at which Giovanni Martinelli was an usher, and Charles Courboin, playing for the Mass, held down a perfect fifth while the vows were spoken, nor of Premier Mussolini making Yon an officer of the Crown of Italy in 1926.

There is so much factual misinformation that the book is almost a disservice to the organist’s memory, and one wonders why it was written as a “novel” and not a biography when the family had all the material necessary. Nevertheless, given the dearth of fictional biographies with famous organists as the subject, this fills the bill and is certainly fairly priced for what you get, just take it cum grano salis.

Rollin Smith
visit The American Organist

See The Heavens Heard Him

Read about the Kilgen he designed for Carnegie Hall.

Posted in Education/Information | 2 Comments

Procession of the Pipes in Seattle (video)

Church Hosts ‘Pipe Raising’ for New Organ

In a report from the general media, one does not expect great detail when covering the installation of an organ. When the minister said that “This was like moving from Chevrolet to Maserati,” and that the new organ will be the only mechanical action French symphonic organ in the northwest, you might hope that they would at least mention the builder.

Nearly 15 years after their organ was damaged, a Seattle church is one step closer to filling their sanctuary with music. Trucks pulled up in front of the Plymouth Congregational Church Sunday morning with the new organ. Sr. Pastor Brigitta Remole says getting the new organ has been a labor of love and faith. The new organ is made up of more than 3,400 pipes and weighs 16 tons. Church members lined 6th Avenue in downtown Seattle to unload all the pieces. “It’s a pipe raising, sort of like a barn raising,” said Remole.

For those who want to know, it’s a Fisk. plymouthchurchseattle.org/about/our-priorities

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Fargo Theatre’s Wurlitzer in Memory


Organ’s History A Compelling Tale

Read this compelling letter by Lance Johnson regarding the Fargo Theatre’s Wurlitzer in North Dakota. The photo above is from ERBzine.com, a site about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

I  enjoyed showing the Wurlitzer pipe organ to Ryan Johnson and his photographer recently. I have always maintained that the real star of the historic Fargo Theatre is not me but the organ. Currently, we consider ourselves blessed to have two new organists. They are Ryan Hardy, who is a high school junior, and Alex Swanson, who is a freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Hardy took second place at the national theater organ contest last summer.

We owe the Mighty Wurlitzer for not allowing the demolition of the theater to take place in 1983 after negotiations were almost complete to sell the building and create another parking lot. Rick Solarski, manager of the West Acres Cinema, urged the American Theater Organ Society to reopen the theater and convert it to a nonprofit art theater. I called an emergency meeting of the organ club and it was a unanimous vote to save the theater ostensibly to save the organ and “Silent Movie Night.”

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Brian Jones Visits Chestertown for A Third Time

Brian Jones to Play Organ Concert

Brian Jones, one of America’s most highly regarded church musicians, will be appearing in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 101 North Cross St, Chestertown, Maryland. Brian is one of my favorite organists and has proven helpful to me on several occasions in my efforts at organ music restoration.

“Jones is emeritus director of music and organist at Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, where he directed a widely acclaimed program from 1984 to 2004. He has since served in three interim positions: director of cathedral music at the Cathedral of St John, Albuquerque, N.M.; director of music at Old South Church in Boston; and associate organist of Memorial Church, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.”

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment