PipeChat Digest #2641 - Thursday, January 10, 2002
OHS Convention 2001 - NC, Report 5 - 6/25
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Another New Album
  by <LLWheels@aol.com>

(back) Subject: OHS Convention 2001 - NC, Report 5 - 6/25 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 00:29:38 -0500   Monday, June 25th, 2001. Our day began with a fascinating lecture at our hotel by Jonathan Ambrosino, who was just finishing a two year term as President of the OHS. "The Residence Organ, 'The Final Touch of Beauty for the Well-Planned Home,'" took us back to those days of "yesteryear," the early part of the 20th century when even Radio did not exist commercially. If you wanted music, you made it yourself, somehow. Just about everyone = had a piano in the parlor, and someone in the family who could play it. And those with wealth and space had Pipe Organs. We have already seen one stately home with a Pipe Organ during this convention, not indigenous to = the place, but a worthy fulfilment of what had been planned for at Biltmore = from the time of its construction. Jonathan's talk this morning would, later in the day, be well punctuated at another stately home with Pipe Organ, in = this case, where it was meant to be. We will hear a live concert on it, and = also a concert provided by the roll player! More about that below.   After the lecture, a short bus ride took us to Centenary United Methodist Church, Winston-Salem, for a much anticipated concert, involving Margaret Vardell Sandresky, whose music we have admired in the last few days, and = Dan Locklair, whose music is quite widely performed. We heard, and I much admired, his Sonata da chiesa for Flute and Organ just last night. = Centenary U.M.C. is not a small church, surely seating at least a thousand souls. = Was there ever a Great Depression in the South? This church, like the first church we visited in Greensboro, was begun in 1929 and completed in 1931. The building committee had been impressed by the Church of the Heavenly = Rest in New York, and hired the same architectural firm, successors to Goodhue and Cram, to design their building. Austin had an organ ready for them in 1931. With its usual uncanny thoroughness, the Organ Handbook for the convention gives us both that original specification and that of today, after a number of revisions. The main redo was in 1963, not a promising year! Right away, one notices that the Great has lost its 16' Double Open Diapason in favor of a Quintaten! Five 8' stops have been whittled down to three. The Second Open (albeit an upward extension of the 16') is gone, as is the Doppelflute. The Great reed unit, Trumpet and Clarion, is gone. To = be sure, in the 1931 instrument, the Great only went up to a 2' Principal, = and that was an extension of the 4'. Now there is a IV Mixture, surely an improvement. The Swell did not fare too badly, although it did lose its = 8' Open Diapason, always a shame, I think. It gained a 16' Contra Fagotto. I think I weep a bit for the Choir organ, which must have had breadth and presence with an English Diapason, Concert Flute, Flute Celeste, Dulciana and Unda Maris. These morphed into just a Nason Flute, Dulciana and Unda Maris. It lost its Clarinet and Orchestral Oboe, in favor of a Larigot and Krummhorn. The Solo and Echo divisions are changed somewhat in character, and possibly improved by the 1963 rebuild. In 1987, Austin made two additions of great significance. A not too frightening en chamade reed in the back, and a solid 32' Bombarde in the Pedal. I am the right age (don't ask) to have been formed, organically speaking, right in the middle of the Orgelbewegung, and what most American builders made of it. No matter how piercing it was, I smiled knowingly, and knew all was as it was meant to = be. I wish I could document for myself (who else would be interested?) all the stages I went through to the point that I could write as I have above. I found the sound of this instrument in its present (1963) incarnation, totally lacking in warmth. (My note to myself in the program reads: "The organ has very little warmth beyond the Celeste level.") Did I know, did I care about warmth in the 50s and 60s as an organ student? Did anyone? I = don' t think the word and concept were ever mentioned. But please do understand that this is not a condemnation of my good friends at Austin, or of those who made the decisions about this instrument in the early 60s. It may be = as close as we have ever come to a common practice period in organbuilding = and organ thinking in this country. We have matured. It is possible to = luxuriate in the breadth and warmth of a great orchestral organ. I have driven long miles to hear the Wanamaker and Woolsey more than a few times. I have also openly, and without fear, expressed my liking of the two very different organs of 1978, one of Andover, the other of Fritz Noack, both heard here, and the latest more period-specific creations of the likes of Taylor and Boody and Richards Fowkes. There are "fusion" instruments like that of Letourneau, heard during our first evening, that can please most people = with most of the organ literature. It certainly pleased me. Have we grown up, = and can we stay that way?   The first part of this morning's program was played by Margaret Vardell Sandresky, who began with a work by her father, the first organist in the new 1931 building, Charles G. Vardell, Jr. (1893-1952). Appropriately, = Mrs. Sandresky registered using only stops from the 1931 organ. This is a wonderfully atmospheric work, with great soaring lines, and bits of nice glassy effects, using also the French Horn and the Harp. A note tells us that it uses the ancient folktune Barbara Allen "in a form peculiar to the mountains of western North Carolina." It was published by H. W. Gray in 1937, and is now out of print. We next heard three works by Mrs. Sandresky herself, beginning with a year 2000 commission from the Home Moravian Church, a suite called The Good Shepherd, consisting of four chorale preludes based on Moravian Chorales. 1. The Savior's Blood and Righteousness 2. Come, faithful shepherd - making use of the Zimbelstern 3. Jesus, still lead on - Bach like, ornamented 4. How great the bliss to be a sheep of Jesus - Principal Chorus to = Mixture, Orgelbuchlein style of counterpoint, with a running, scalewise bass. Do not get the impression from "Zimbelstern, Bach like, Orgelbuchlein" = that these pieces are simply exercises in Bachian style. They are not, although this is where their inspiration lies. Next on the program, a Wedding March written in 1982 for the wedding of = the daughter of some friends, while Mrs. Sandresky was organist of this church = - somewhat British sounding, with great flourishes. Ending the first half of the program, En Chamade, written for OHS 2001. There are several = movements, some with chimes, and some cleverly using the big reed in the back. Thanks to the convention planners for giving us an overview of the works of a = very fine American composer from North Carolina who is also a wonderful performer.   After a short break, the program resumed with Dan Locklair on the bench playing all music of his own, beginning with a Fanfare for Organ, written = in 2000 on commission from Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. It began = with a kind of um-cha or um-pah bass & chord pattern with a bit of a swing, = with wild en-chamade bits toward the end. This was followed by three sections from the fairly well-known Windows of Comfort (Organbook 2), commissioned = in 1996 by First Presbyterian Church, Topeka, Kansas, and inspired by that church's Tiffany windows. 3. Bless the Child - with some muffled chimes and lots of twiddly figurations 4. . . . and call her blessed . . . - a fuller registration with = the two resultant 32s working hard at the end. 5. Christ's Ascension - somewhat minimalist, with motifs super-repeated, and a kind of jazzy swing. Then, Ayre for the Dance -It is kind of a two-step, with some glissandi = and pointilistic bits. Jubilo (A Prelude for Organ) - A 1998 commission from = the AGO for the 2001 regional competitions for young organists. Finally, we had a chance to sing, and a good chance indeed with the Parry tune to "O praise ye the Lord!"   We next did a rather free form triple split. We all drove to the great estate that Tobacco built, Reynolda House in Winston-Salem, with a really lovely house, unpretentious, human scaled, but spacious and elegant all = the same. The room from which we could hear the organ is not huge, hence the split with assigned times for each group for hearing the recital, for = eating lunch in the various restaurants on the estate, and for simply walking around the beautiful grounds. It did not work out exactly as planned, because it took rather a time to suss out the various restaurants and to = get into fairly long lines and to wait for service. I did not think we would ever get fed, after one of our party committed the ultimate faux-pas here, and inquired about a no smoking section!! I never did get to hear David Pulliam, Resident Organist at Reynolda House and Organist at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem. From outside, I heard a bit of Jonathan Ambrosino's "recital" on the Aeolian Roll Player. It's a terribly polite sort of = sound, muffled in the acoustic of a not very large well-stuffed sitting room, but it is really interesting that it exists. After this visit, the buses took = us back to our hotel for a rest period! Then, we did the well-travelled road = to Greensboro for dinner at First Presbyterian Church (scene of the very = first recital of the convention), and then to Christ United Methodist Church, = the scene of which could have been a convention planner's nightmare, but = turned out more than o.k. We were to have heard Lenora McCroskey, who has had, = and is still having, a long and distinguished career as teacher and performer. She has taught at Eastman, Longy School, and Stetson University, and has also served as Assistant Organist/Choirmaster at the Harvard University Memorial Church. She is now on the faculty at the University of North = Texas. Having said all that, Ms McCroskey suffered an injury to her arm some days before she was to play for us, and realized it would not be possible to = meet the commitment. She presumably recommended her excellent former pupil Stewart Wayne Foster, who was, fortunately, available to play. I have been curious about Mr. Foster for some time, partly because my attention had = been drawn to him by the fact that a good friend of mine shares (almost) the = same name, and I have felt some concern about potential confusion. Stuart = Forster (please promise you will note the differences in spelling of both the = first and last names), an Australian, is Director of Music at Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a wonderful church and concert organist. Anyone who reads The Diapason or The American Organist magazines or the PipOrg-L and Pipechat electronic mailing lists on the Internet, has read about Stewart Wayne Foster, and the press is all good! He is now resident in Charleston, where he is Artist in Residence and Associate Organist of First (Scots) Presbyterian Church and is founder/musical director of the Orchestra of St. Clare, Charleston's first full-scale Baroque orchestra. Mr. Foster has been coordinating the important Pipe = Organ component of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival since 1999. He has studied at Interlochen, Stetson, the University of North Texas, and the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. His numerous prizes include the Gold Medal and Audience Prize at the 1997 Dallas International Organ Competition. He is represented by Phillip Truckenbrod.   We began with a hymn, O Gladsome Light to the tune "Cantique de Simeon," a Louis Bourgeois tune harmonized by Claude Goudimel. We got to sing the second (of three) stanzas in harmony, and were grateful for it. I am = afraid it was played in what many Europeans think of as The American Style, = meaning full out all the way, with Mixtures blazing throughout. If only we could have had gentle (or no!) accompaniment for our harmony verse (Now, ere day fadeth quite), we would have done really well with it, and been happier campers, although I should not speak for everyone. By the time the hymn = was over, I knew this organ was incredibly loud. There were people holding = their ears, and the hearing aid of a man a few seats over in my aisle starting howling in pain, and he had to abandon it altogether. The notes on the instrument told us that this was one of the organs completed in the last year of the wonderful Charles Fisk's life, 1982, and mentioned that it is considered a sister organ to the one at Downtown United Presbyterian = Church in Rochester, New York, an organ I have twice heard. I have nothing but = the greatest respect for the C. B. Fisk firm, and for the recent instruments I have heard. There can be no harm in saying what is true, that it is often said that toward the end of his life, Charles was losing his hearing, and that these instruments reflected that. I cannot know that, but I have to = say that the Rochester Organ really was tough to take, and that this organ . . = .. .. well, what can I say? When you leave a recital and in walking down the corridor, hear almost nothing but people saying things like "Wow! I don't think I will ever hear again," and "My ears are really hurting," and numerous varieties of those sentiments, something has to be wrong, and I know I was in pain. The discussion on that topic went on during the bus = ride back to Winston, and at the exhibits later on in the evening.   Now, having got that off my chest, back to the star of the evening. I will travel far to hear this man play again. He is superb, possessing a very = easy sort of grace, his movements sure and musically based. With not too much notice, he was able to put together a most interesting program, which I found altogether riveting. He also spoke very clearly and well, with comments carefully chosen and useful. My concentration was alive to every note from beginning to end. He began with the Nicholas Bruhns Praeludium = in e minor, beautifully played if a bit over registered, so that the = aggressive nature of the instrument was disturbing. Relief came with a Bach Toccata = in d minor, no, not that one, but BWV 913, written with Harpsichord in mind. This worked very well, with occasional Pedal notes introduced. Mr. Foster has great control of touch, and a sure rhythmic sense. We then heard the seven movements of the Clerambault Suite on the Second Tone, a graduate recital piece for me, played on the lovely Holtkamp at Corpus Christi = Church in New York while Clerambault was still alive! Mr. Foster warned us about the "Killer Cromorne," and in the Basse de Cromorne, its presence was = indeed felt. However, in both the Bach Toccata and the Clerambault, the = instrument proved to be truly lovely and clear, with really beautiful small combinations.   Herewith a new paragraph, in honor of the Wind Stabilizer going on at this point. Please don't interpret that as negative toward the flexible wind of the instrument, which I found very pleasant and right for the music. I was just looking for an excuse for a paragraph break. Amazing Grace is a somewhat disjointed piece (I think intentionally so) working on fragments = of the well-known melody. It is by Robert Hebble, who was one of Mr. Foster's teachers. This was harmonically very fresh and interesting. Toccata on = "Old Hundredth" by Jack Jones was next, Mr. Jones being another of Mr. Foster's teachers. This very interesting piece begins boldly, in French Toccata style, followed by statements of the tune treated in various ways, eventually with the cantus stated in the Pedal with Toccata figures above it. I was happy to have heard these two pieces, heretofore unknown to me = and I suspect most others in the audience. The recital ended with the Final = from the Vierne Third Symphony, brilliantly played. By this point, I had = wondered if Mr. Foster, given the late notice about playing, had actually had a chance to go out and listen to the instrument with his registrations. Some judicious pruning could have made the big moments more bearable, something that was very much wanted in the Vierne, which was so splendidly done, but was also painfully loud, not a nice memory. But I will not forget the = power and beauty of this man's playing, and hope that when the opportunity presents itself, those reading this will seize that opportunity, as I most certainly will.   Following the recital, it was back on the bus, and to the pleasant congeniality of the exhibits and bar.   These reports will appear in The Diapason sometime in the spring, along = with photographs of people and venues supplied by William van Pelt of the Organ Historical Society. My thanks to Harry Martenas for proof-reading my proof-reading. I ask any of you reading this to send me any corrections, which will then be incorporated into the printed text, with or without attribution - your choice. Yours with thanks, Malcolm Wechsler          
(back) Subject: Another New Album From: <LLWheels@aol.com> Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 01:00:42 EST     --part1_197.e101b0.296e880a_boundary Content-Type: text/plain; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit   I have posted a photo album titled "Organ Removal" at the iWon Photo = Center. I thought you might enjoy it.     The address is:   <A = HREF=3D"http://www.webphotos.iwon.com/list_photos.asp?mi=3D3&smi=3D1&a=3D50= 525">http://www.webphotos.iwon.com/list_photos.asp?mi=3D3&smi=3D1&a=3D50525= </A>       Larry L. Wheelock Madison, Wisconsin   "SI HOC LEGERE SCIS NIMIUM ERUDITONIS HABES"   --part1_197.e101b0.296e880a_boundary Content-Type: text/html; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit   <HTML><FONT FACE=3Darial,helvetica><BODY BGCOLOR=3D"#ffffff"><FONT = style=3D"BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" SIZE=3D2>I have posted a photo album = titled "Organ Removal" at the iWon Photo Center. I thought you might enjoy = it.<BR> <BR> <BR> The address is:<BR> <BR> <A = HREF=3D"http://www.webphotos.iwon.com/list_photos.asp?mi=3D3&smi=3D1&a=3D50= 525">http://www.webphotos.iwon.com/list_photos.asp?mi=3D3&amp;smi=3D1&amp;a= =3D50525</A><BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> Larry L. Wheelock<BR> Madison, Wisconsin<BR> <BR> "SI HOC LEGERE SCIS NIMIUM ERUDITONIS HABES"</FONT></HTML>   --part1_197.e101b0.296e880a_boundary--