PipeChat Digest #1563 - Friday, August 18, 2000
Triumphant Grand Opening!! OHS in Boston
  by <ManderUSA@aol.com>
RE: Iowa theatre Scott Foppiano concert
  by "jeff korns" <jakorns@worldnet.att.net>

(back) Subject: Triumphant Grand Opening!! OHS in Boston From: <ManderUSA@aol.com> Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 01:45:16 EDT   Imagine this. A church packed to the rafters with mostly organists from around the country. An organ in a stunning case fills the west gallery of = the church. The chairs that fill the nave have all been turned around so we = can sit and gaze up into the balcony. A priest steps forward to the railing = and says simply this: "Good evening. I'm Fr. Thomas Carroll, rector of this church," this simple announcement followed by what can only be described = as tumultuous applause, shouting, and a standing ovation! Do this on a = regular basis, and seminaries will be overflowing with candidates for the = priesthood, but of course, there is a special tale to tell about this visceral = reaction, and Fr. Tom Carroll, organist and OHS member, is the deserving symbol of a =   happy ending to a horror story. It was in 1986 that we learned, from not = only the organ journals but from the mainstream media, that from within, a movement was afoot in this parish, actively trying in haste, before it = could be discovered, to destroy all that was beautiful in the place. There were stories of sledgehammers taken to statuary, and of plans to build rentable =   offices within the nave! The nave would be vastly forshortened, becoming a =   small "worship center." The great space would nevermore be seen - the = great organ would never sound into its intended space again. The mobilization of =   the OHS and many architectural conservation and preservation groups in the =   city was complete and effective! Three ultimately removeable office structures were indeed hastily built in the side aisles of the west end of =   the nave, ugly and intrusive, but they could have been infinitely worse, = and the best news is that plans are afoot to remove them as soon as possible. What is left is by no means shabby. It's a glorious place.   In part, the OHS exists to honor, protect, and present great instruments, = so perhaps it is at "The Immaculate" that we see this function at its best, = and therefore fitting that the convention begins and ends with concerts on E. = & G. G. Hook Opus 322(1863)/E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings Opus 1959 (1902), = played by two great musicians who have supported the work of the Society and been =   heard in many conventions over the years. Peter Sykes began this week, = which will end with Thomas Murray.   When the pandemonium settled, Fr. Carroll was able to warmly welcome us, after which Jonathan Ambrosino, president of the Society (and also editor = of this year's stunning Organ Handbook and Convention Program) officially = opened the convention, and introduced Scot Huntington, this year's convention chairman. Scot ran a memorable convention in Central Connecticut some = years ago, a convention for which he persuaded a remarkable group of artists to perform, setting a new performance standard for the Society to aspire to = in the ensuing years. No ground has been lost, as you will know from the narratives of the week to come. Scot spoke of the tragedy and ultimate triumph of this place, not without evidence of some emotion in his voice.   Peter Sykes requires no introduction at an OHS convention, but Scot graciously introduced him all the same, and he assumed the bench, = accompanied by his quite solid state Australian combination action, Michael Murray on = the right (hereafter known as Dexter), and Stuart Forster on the left = (Sinister).   A lovely feature of OHS convention recitals/organ demonstrations is the inclusion of a hymn chosen by the performer in every program. It makes perfect sense for us to hear instruments doing one of the jobs for which = they were designed. It is fun to see a look of amazed wonderment on the faces = of people attending for the first time, as they hear the fabulous sound of several hundred intelligent musical beings filling a church with vocal = glory! And Peter's chosen tune was Helmsley to the Advent text "Lo, He comes with =   clouds descending" - what a fabulous big, rich, unison sound we made in a splendid acoustic!   The first work on the program: Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, Opus 37, No. 1. We most often hear the Sonatas of Opus 65, and not these = earlier fine works, but perhaps there is a resurgence under way. I am sufficiently =   behind in these reports that as I write this, I have already heard a = second performance of this same Prelude and Fugue, played by Julian Wachner in = his recital of Thursday night, but that is telling tales out of synch. More = about that later. The combination of Peter Sykes, Felix Mendelssohn, the Great = Hook and Hook & Hastings, and the acoustic of the Immaculate, as they want to = call it, conspired for a most satisfying experience. I adore Mendelssohn = anyway, so this was sheer bliss.   From Annees de Pelerinage of Liszt, we heard two Sykes transcriptions. Ave =   Maria von Arcadelt was the first, based on a sweet little four part = Arcadelt work that was in the choral library at the first church for which I = played. There really is not a lot to it, but Liszt spent rather a long time with = it, and I thought it redeemed only by the opportunity it gave Peter to demonstrate some of the lovely combinations available on this instrument. = The second piece is called Sposalizio (betrothal), based on a painting of Raphael, and is a charming promenade sort of work, reminiscent of a work = of Alphonse Mailly I once heard David Liddle play - very lilting and gentle = at first.   We next heard not the Etudes or Sketches, but Six Fugues on B-A-C-H, by Robert Schumann. These are marked "for pedal piano or organ," as are the other works, but perhaps have more potential as organ works, particularly, =   Peter notes, numbers 1, 3, 4 and 6. 1 is very sustained, 2 is rather a short-long sort of gallop, with a later section with an extremely active Pedal part, and then a manual Toccata over long, sustained Pedal notes. 3 = is quiet and sustained. 4 has the B-A-C-H theme reorganized. 5 has well articulated flute figurations. 6 has very sustained and conjunct lines and = a great build up to the end. Peter comments in his notes that played = together, these works become something of a satisfying larger sonata.   After intermission, another work for Pedal Piano, a Grand Prelude (from a = set of eleven dedicated to Franck, by Charles-Valentin Alkan, who was, = quoting from Peter's program note, "a prodigious, albeit reclusive, performer on = the piano and especially the pedal piano, and his compositions continue to = amaze and puzzle musicians with their fierce difficulties, their obsessiveness, = and their peculiar brand of enticing melodic songfulness." In arranging this = for organ, some adjustments of spacing and texture were necessary, and = although this is not one of the more difficult works in the set, it was necessary = to employ "Dexter" to play a few melodic notes in one place, a task he = handled nobly.   Returning a favor, Cesar Franck dedicated his "Grand Piece Symphonique," which we heard next and last, to none other than Charles Alkan. Peter = Sykes plays this spacious and wonderful work with both the breadth and the fire = of the great Demessiux, whom I once heard at Woolsey Hall. Quoting again from =   the notes, " . . . my own introduction to [Grand Piece Symphonique] was through a recording made on this very organ almost thirty years ago by = Thomas Murray. I was transfixed by the piece, organ, and performer. I remain in = his debt." And Peter, we remain in your debt for keeping the tradition alive. Thank you for tonight, and for many tonights!!   Malcolm Wechsler www.mander-organs.com      
(back) Subject: RE: Iowa theatre Scott Foppiano concert From: "jeff korns" <jakorns@worldnet.att.net> Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 01:22:46 -0500   Since Scott is too modest to mention how his concert went, I will. It was a fantastic concert. Scott is a talented musician. If you get the chance to hear him in person, do it! He seemed at home on the organ and had a good rapport with the audience.   Scott presented a varied and enjoyable performance. I had the chance to meet him before the concert and he is most gracious. We had people from Minnesota, Wisconson and Illinois drive in for his concert. The audience gave him two standing ovations. Well Done! Jeff Korns. P.S. Scott, I'm suprised that only Ron Rhode has made a recording on the instrument, hint hint!