Saturday, August 26, 2017

ST PAUL UMC AND the Glory Days of RODGERS ORGANS


I had the joy of visiting St. Paul United Methodist Church in Cincinnati this week and enjoyed the opportunity to play the Rodgers Pipe Organ of 36 ranks plus 10 analog ranks.  During the time I was there I realize this is (as the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" says) an "Ebenezer", i.e. a memorial stone of some of the finest instrument Rodgers Organs ever built.  My friend Ric Jaeggi worked with the St, Paul folks to agree to purchase this instrument replacing an old Rodgers 35D electronic organ which served St. Paul for many years.  Mark Schaffer served as the consultant.  My friend Jerry Dulski was the dealer of record who negotiated and completed the sale.  Allen Harrah was the president of Rodgers at the time.  And the installation crew which consisted of Bill Tabor and Tom Helms came directly from the noted installation of mammoth Second Baptist Houston Five-Manual Instrument to install St. Paul. Allan Van Zoren and Steve Adams did the original planning and design and Larry Hawkins completed the work by increasing the scaling and I believe Tom Goodapple contributed as well.  After the installation there were several concerts including I believe the formal dedication by Jonas Nordwall.  Ric Jaeggi presided over the console for five years before moving to Florida.  I followed Rick from 1990 through the end of 1994.  There were double organ concerts with Ric and I adding a second Rodgers organ, double organ concerts with both Bene Hammel and Chris Howard adding Church Organ Systems products.  Our teacher David Mulbury played a program.  And St. Paul celebrated the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the organ a couple of years ago with many of the organists through St. Paul history returning to play including Ric Jaeggi, Douglas Manley, Patrick Coyle, Alice Edwards and myself.  Jerry Dulski returned from Chicago for the concert to celebrate with us.  Current organist at St. Paul is Julie Shelton.  

It's pretty amazing how well the ten analog voices are holding up! When combined with the pipes in this beautiful space most congregation members would have a difficult time knowing they were not pipe voices.  There is an older Rodgers Series 2 MIDI System which I believe I am the only one who ever used by adding a Roland Sound Canvas SC-55 Module!  

If you are an organist and in the Cincinnati area you should make it a point to hear this instrument which is truly one of the best organs in the Cincinnati area.  It is a marvelous memory of the golden years of organ building from the gifted and talented Rodgers organ staff from a time which many of us remember with great fondness.  

RIC and RODNEY DUO-ORGAN CONCERT at CRESTVIEW

DUO ORGAN CONCERT-CRESTVIEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Thursday August 17 was the finale of three Summer Organ Concerts at Crestview and featured Ric Jaeggi and myself playing the Allen R-380 and Content 236R Digital Organ.  I first met Ric in 1975 where we were students at Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.   Our first duo concert was in 1976 in West Virginia.  Since, we’ve shared numerous programs  in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chillicothe and other venues, continuing to do so forty-one years later! 
After a successful 3-17-17 program at Peace Lutheran Church in Ft. Myers, on a Wicks Royal Classic Three Manual Organ and a Viscount Unico Physis Three-Manual Organ,  we decided to play a similar program at Crestview Presbyterian in August  This was made possible through the generous support of the Verdin Company, Organ Division through their installation of a Content 236R Orchestral Organ.  Though a third of the size of the Crestview Allen, the Content was a perfect instrument with plenty of tonal resources to balance.  The orchestral sounds (especially the strings, percussions, keyboard and many solo winds such as English Horn, Clarinet and Trumpet) are very good!  The velocity keyboards added a level of musical expression.  
Being a lighter summer series, Ric and I wanted the program to be listenable and familiar to the congregation, so we chose transcriptions  of familiar works:  Gigot-Grand Choeur Dialogue; Elgar-Nimrod; Handel-Concerto in F; Albinoni-Adagio and created two organ arrangements.  We played our classmate David Pettit’s Marriage at Cana for Solo Trumpet and full organ.  We were surprised to learn following the program that the couple for which David wrote this (Mark and Sara Smith) were present in the audience and members of Crestview!  They too were surprised when we announced and played their wedding processional. 
The second half of the program consisted of hymn tunes including:  All Creatures, A Mighty Fortress, Jesus Priceless Treasure, and What a Friend we have in Jesus.  Rodney turned the Content Organ into a praise band on “Draw Me Close” with Fantasia, Nylon Guitar, Tenor Sax, Strings, Choral Aahs, and Celesta.   The concluding piece was Boellman’s Suite Gothique with Chorale (organ and choir warming up before Mass); Minuet (folks scurrying to worship); Prayer (Parishioners in worship) — an orchestral treatment on the Content; and Toccata with fiery reed choruses pushing the Presbyterians to be first in line at the best restaurants before Mass is over! 
We left the audience of 250+ wanting more but alas, they had to settle for some great cookies and joyful conversation. Ric and I are grateful to Crestview and to the Verdin Company Organ Division for the opportunity to play together one more time!  We will look forward to continuing our partnership in any future venues which may arise.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TABERNACLE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH---POQUOSON, VIRGINIA


It’s been two years since I played the amazing Rodgers 484 Infinity Organ with Schantz Pipes at Faith Lutheran in Fairlawn, Ohio.  I have such fond memories of this, I was delighted to get the invitation to play the Rodgers 484 Digital Organ at Tabernacle United Methodist in Poquoson, VA.  I love this area as my family enjoyed multiple vacations at Virginia Beach in the sixties and seventies, and I have great memories from my workshops during the summer church music institute at Virginia Wesleyan a couple of years ago.  
The weekend began with a Saturday workshop for eight area organists.  We reviewed the tonal resources of the Rodgers 484 Organ and I directed those present to return to their churches and make an inventory of all the tonal resources of the instruments they are currently using.  I suggested a goal of finding and using at least one new sound every week to grow in using and understanding the tonal resources of their instruments.  I used my “ten piston” workshop (strings, solo sounds, cornet, classic flutes, harpsichord and strings, brass, solo trumpet, foundations, mixtures, reeds) to explain the families of tone, orchestral tone, how to find and set orchestral sounds while demonstrating literature, hymn playing and introductions, useful features of the organ like melody & bass couplers, temperaments, sound library, and then played several pieces demonstrating how to take familiar literature and orchestrate, creating “soundscapes” to take the congregation to various times and periods of music history.
We continued this approach at Sunday’s Concert where I considered each composition a musical “Snapshot” of a period of organ literature.  We viewed the history and performance practice of the organ in various ways:  the art of the orchestral transcription allowing audiences in small towns to hear great music when there is no symphony; the use and development of concerto form, Bach’s genius in not whining while in prison in Weimer, but using his time to write the ORGELBUCHLEIN.  We heard how Bach explored music by playing Vivaldi’s String Concerto on the organ, we “mourned” in Albinoni’s Adagio; we explored Psalms Hymns and Spiritual Songs, from the Neo-Baroque Prelude of Walcha, to the American Orchestral arrangement by Clokey to the reconfiguration of the organ to a worship band in Redman’s setting of Psalm 103.  The Carmen Suite got the audience to a high level of excitement and was easily the winner of the day!  The time got away from us, and DELICIOUS MOIST BROWNIES were calling us, so a quick finale and encore from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony closed the event.  
My great appreciation to Al Murrell from R.A.Daffer Church Organ Company for arranging for me to play this event, to Jack and Nancy White and Tabernacle United Methodist Church, Poquoson, VA for the invitation to play, and to all who supported the workshop and the concert program yesterday!  This was a great installation in a very beautiful building!  I hope to return in the future and visit again!  

CONCERT AT OHIO LIVING-MOUNT PLEASANT

The Administration at Ohio Living-Mount Pleasant has organized a marvelous concert series for the residents and surrounding community and I am thrilled that I was invited to be a part of their 2017 program series.  The programs are held in their multi-purpose chapel where there is an excellent four-manual Allen Millennium Edition Renaissance Four-Manual Organ.  It is well installed and the pipe organ sounds are excellent and reverberant.  The orchestral sounds are a bit of a question.  It has Allen's older Sound Expander Series, but the major problem is there are only 10 MIDI presents (though with some piston re-configuration you can maybe get twenty).  With multiple levels of combination memory, if you try to set orchestral voices on other memories, you change your settings on the first level.  I'm convinced the engineers never thought MIDI would catch on with such a limited system.  Bottom line, is on newer Allen organs with VISTA MIDI this has been greatly improved.  And the great news, is with some "Rodney reconfiguring" I had everything I needed to make this concert sparkle with a lot of great sounds and variety for the residents.  And I loved playing this organ in this room for these people.  
Here's the program:  Meyerbeer-Coronation March; Handel Concerto in F-Andante; Bach-Three Chorale Preludes from Orgelbuchlein; Vivaldi-Allegro from Concert in A Minor; Albinoni-Adagio in G Minor; Redman-Bless the Lord O My Soul; Wood-What a Friend; Clokey-Cantabile; Bizet-Medley from Carmen.  
I loved being presented with a ROSE for playing the CARMEN Suite-thanks Susan and "Mother"!  
There was lots of traditional organ sound, orchestral sound, as well as a combination of the two.  There were lots of anecdotes, explanations of how the organ works, and singing with the audience, including a seventh inning stretch.  Following the program I received this feedback from OHIO LIVING:  You have no idea how many people told us how wonderful your concert at Mt. Pleasant was last night and how much they appreciated and enjoyed it. The audience was so engaged as you could tell by the applause. In the 3 years that I have been program chairpersons, I can't recall any audience rising to their feet after the last number.  There were a lot of comments requesting that we bring you back again. Thank you is definitely not enough language to express my appreciation. I know how much time and preparation you spent to present this concert, especially since it occurred so soon after Easter. I am so glad that you explained the different parts of the organ and that you gave us the background of the composers.  This was the highlight of the program year for us. 
Thanks to the residents of Mount Pleasant, to folks from Crestview Presbyterian, John Wesley United Methodist Church, College Hill Presbyterian Church (all churches I've served) and folks from the Monroe Community for your attendance!  I want to thank Richard and Willie Schorr for inviting several to their home following for Willie's AMAZING ALMOND POUND CAKE!  (I should also mention that this chapel houses one of the best Steinway 7' Grand Pianos I've ever played!  If there's a return invitation, maybe I'll record some accompaniments and play duets with the organ!  
(My Cheri and me!)


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH-Fort Myers, Florida March 24, 2017

Cheri and I just returned from a THIRD concert in five years at Peace Lutheran Church in Fort Myers, Florida!  Director of Music Richard Jaeggi and I have been close friends since our days at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music!  We have enjoyed our share of two-organ concerts over the years and this program was certainly one of the highlights! Our friend Pete Kinzie of Church Organ Concepts, Florida installed the Wicks Royal Classic III Digital Organ of Peace Lutheran Church several years ago—the three manual specification is augmented with a Viscount Organ Expander Module which speaks from the rear of the sanctuary and a real zimbelstern.  Our second instrument---a Viscount Physis 400 three manual physical modeling organ was temporarily and artfully installed by Pete for this program.  This organ contains no digital sampling with the organ voices created through human and computer analysis and construction.  
There are some wonderful orchestral sounds on board and we augmented with a KORG Sound Module.  Pete was very clever in choosing a variety of speaker systems which complimented the divisions of the organ (for example Walker TP3’s for the festival trumpets).  With the speaker placement Pete chose, he was able to PAN the orchestral harp so when I played a glissando, the sound traveled obviously from left to right giving energy and excitement to the instrument.  There are a “ton” of adjustments available on this instrument, for example the reverb can be adjusted per stop and per frequency, so we turned reverb up on the 16 Open Wood Diapason which gave the illusion of slightly delayed attack and allowed the sound to “bloom”---a more authentic pipe attack!  While I base my entire organ playing career on finding the best sounds and features on whatever organ I’m sitting at and highlighting those, I will admit that there are some instruments that are just wonderful and fun to play, and this was one of them! We wanted a program that would be “light and spring-ish” and show off the sounds of these instruments while having the audience leave humming the tunes! 



Here’s what we chose to play this year: 

(haha-Ric demonstrates the "Pipe Portion" of our program!)
  

Gigout  Grand Choeur Dialogue  featuring the French Reed Choruses.  Our friend from the College Conservatory of Music David Pettit   composed his Processional March (Marriage at Cana) which featured the English Organ Ensembles the Solo Trumpet, Tuba and the Orchestral Trumpet.   We stayed in England for Elgar’s “Nimrod from Enigma Variations”.  The organ and orchestral strings were featured.  We were able to load in some different string samples for this piece from the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia for a smooth rich string chorus.   We contrasted the strings with the delightful Baroque Flutes on the Viscount Physis Organ with Rodney as the soloist and Ric as the orchestra with orchestral strings and harpsichord in Handel’s  Andante from Organ Concerto in Bb Major. The dramatic Albinoni Adagio in G Minor featured organ string ensembles, the solo orchestral violin gradually building to full organ and back to “nothing” at the end. 


Our second section featured Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs.  First, the Vierne Kyrie from Messe Solennelle  written for two organs and two choirs, and transcribed for this program.  Hayes’ arrangement of All Creatures of Our God and King provided a great piece to show Foundation Ensembles, the Organ Harp , Orchestral Strings, Baroque String and Harpsichord Ensemble, Full Organ.  Ric played “The Lutheran National Anthem” ---A Mighty Fortress Is Our God---two contrasting settings by Buxtehude (an ornamented chorale-featuring the cornet) and a Full Organ Improvisation by David Cherwein to use as an introduction to singing this hymn which we did!  I was able to turn the Viscount Physis into a PRAISE BAND, and led the congregation in singing “10,000 Reasons---Bless the Lord, O My Soul”).  We heard orchestral oboe, flute and English Horn, orchestral strings, harp, choir voices, nylon acoustic guitar, electric piano, chrysoglott, and chimes.  Before the close, we did contrasting solos on the idea of Jesus as our “friend” with Rodney playing traditional partita on Walther’s Jesus, Priceless Treasure…Truest Friend to me while Ric “rocked out” on the traditional gospel version of Ore’s arrangement of What a Friend.  Our close, was Boellman’s Suite Gothique (Choral, Minuet, Prayer, Toccata) which lends itself to division between two organs).
Thanks again to Richard Jaeggi and Pete Kinzie for making this program possible!  I sincerely hope there will be a number four!

Monday, December 5, 2016

BRASS BAND-CHANCEL CHOIR-ORGAN at CRESTVIEW 12-03-16

CINCINNATI BRASS AT CRESTVIEW-December 2016!
It was a GLORIOUS evening of Christmas Music at Crestview on December 3 with The Cincinnati Brass Band, The Crestview Chancel Choir accompanied by Teri McKibben at the organ, and an organ solo performance by Rodney Barbour.  Crestview has enjoyed the partnership with the Cincinnati Brass Band for the past five years.  They are now a partner ensemble in residence at Crestview and all are excited about upcoming concerts!

All of the holiday music was festive but the two arrangements with the Chancel Choir, HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS  and FESTIVE FIRST NOWELL arranged by Dan Forrest and arranged for brass band by Al Schmidt were spectacular.  The scripture:  The Trumpeters and Singers were as one to make one sound to be heard in praising Him (2 Chronicles 5:13) was brought to life in this performance!  I truly thought the sanctuary was going to be filled with a cloud during the Festive First Nowell, which brought a standing ovation from many present!  This was a TRUE HIGHLIGHT of the 2016 Christmas Music Season for many in the choir, the audience and myself! 
I enjoyed re-orchestrating and performing “Christmas in the Great Hall” which I debuted on last Sunday’s program in Hurricane, WV.  The audience loved the variety of sounds including:  Full Organ, Trumpet with Glock, Pizzicato Strings, Bagpipe, Bells, Triangle, Taiko Drum, Full Orchestral Strings, Soaring French Horns, Carillon Chimes, Orchestral Oboe, English Horn, Cello, Flute, and the list goes on and on! 
It was great “into” to the Holiday Music of the Season at Crestview!  Thanks to all performers who made such glorious music!  

PLAYING THE HARRAH SYMPHONIC ORGAN 11-27-16


This concert at Forrest Burdette UMC in Hurricane, WV is always one of my favorite programs of the year! I first played the amazing Harrah Symphonic Organ in 2006, and then presented a Veterans Day Concert in 2008, beginning a series of performances including POPS and Christmas Concerts, the most recent being Sunday November 27, 2016.  This year’s theme was Blessings and Carols, combining the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I view this as a time for the congregation of Forrest Burdette UMC in Hurricane, WV to celebrate the many blessings of the year and to make the transition into celebrating the beginning of Advent and the Christmas Holiday season.

As one might imagine after now eight Christmas programs, which means about one-hundred and twenty pieces, I’m beginning to sweat a bit for some new pieces and ideas to keep the programs fresh with no repeats! This year, I managed to get some inspiration from several anthems our choir in Cincinnati is performing and adapted-arranged these orchestrations myself to have some wonderful new arrangements to play which let themselves to the myriad of tones and instruments available on the Harrah Symphonic Organ.  One of the pieces: “Christmas in the Great Hall” was a medley of European Carols and itself had over 52 sound combinations in approximately 5 minutes.  The congregation could see and hear me make use of all six manuals and the combination system to recall all of these sounds at live performance tempo. 


Involving the congregation through the singing of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, and sharing with them some of the scriptural, inspirational and performance back-ground information helped those present engage with the program!  There were very few places on earth this particular Sunday where folks could hear an instrument of this magnitude in live performance.  I’m grateful to Don Gatewood, Allen Harrah and Pastor Ellis Conley for the opportunity to once again have the joy of presiding over this console!  For those who don't know, Allen Harrah is a native West Virginian as is pioneer who developed the first successful integration of the pipe organ and the analog-now-digital organ resulting in some of the world's first pipe combination organs. For a period of time Allen was president of Rodgers Organs when they were owned by CBS Musical Instruments and presided over the construction and installation of one of Rodger's most prestigious instruments, the five manual instrument of Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.  It's always a personal joy to sit with Allen during my visits to Hurricane and chat about some of the history of organ building in America and hear the stories of various artists and their persona!  



Here’s my 2016 program:   

BLESSINGS

Shaw:  Grand Processional:  Praise to the Lord!
Young:  We Gather Together
Sorenson:  10,000 Reasons
Raney:  Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
      
CAROLS
Hayes: Christmas in the Great Hall
Rouse: Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming
Eithun:  Breath of Heaven
Larson: Mary Did You Know
Kirkland:  Sing Gloria
Martin:  Joy to the World,

SONGS OF THE SEASON
Traditional:  Deck the Halls
Beal:  Jingle Bell Rock
Nelson and Coots:  Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Martin and Blain: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Video Montage
Traditional:  The Twelve Days of Christmas

POSTLUDE
Mulet:  Carillon-Sortie