copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2012
THE PLACE TO BE on Fridays at noon is Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square, Boston, MA.
This past Friday there was an astounding organ concert played by Richard Webster (Trinity’s Music Director and Organist) and Colin Lynch (Trinity’s Assistant Organist).
To walk into the Church and see the organ taking its place in front of the altar just glowing from the way the light hit it, was stunning. I wanted to just sit in a quiet place to contemplate the scene in front of me for awhile, but since I arrived just before the concert started, that didn’t happen. When you go to Trinity’s Friday organ concerts, I suggest you arrive at least 15 minutes early to absorb what you see there. When the organ moves to the front and center of the altar in such a breathtaking way, with the drama it creates in its new place does that make it a sacred icon?
The sanctuary itself is beautiful, even when the organ is on the side out of view, with those incredible stained glass windows adding depth to the light flowing into the Church. The first time I walked into Trinity it was 1980, I felt as though I had come home. I went kicking and screaming all the way because I had other places I would rather have been, however, that all left when I walked into the Church. I thought it was a spiritual experience of homecoing until I learned the architect – H. H. Richardson – was from New Orleans and had incorporated much of the ambiance, culture and New Orleans Creole style into his architectural designs. After that bit of knowledge surfaced, I realized that while there may have been something spiritual about that first experience of the Church, it was an actual feeling of homecoming from someone who was homesick.
Richard Webster opened the concert with Nicholaus Bruhns’ Preludium in E Minor. A Northern German Baroque piece which has a virtuosity and richness which held its own in this environment. A student of Dieterich Buxtehude, Nicholaus came from a family of organists, composers, violinists, etc.
I used to wonder why many of the great organ composers and performers came from family groups – parents who played and composed, siblngs who followed their parents, those who married the children of organists becoming great organists themselves – until I realized how difficult it is to find an organ on which one can practice without this familial support. It is a rare instrument, which encompasses and can imitate all others.
Richard Webster’s opening of the concert with the Bruhns’ piece was beautiful. It was very rich and Richard’s playing brought out the virtuosity of the piece.
The composition which reached me where I was living that day was Trois Movements for Organ and Flute by Jehan Alain. Colin Lynch played the organ, Richard Webster played the flute. I’ve heard both of them play before, but when Trois Movements started I was not prepared. My favorite combination is organ and flute; my favorite composer in the organ world – Marcel Dupré – one of Jehan Alain’s teachers. I had totally fogotten about Jehan Alain. One can hear the romantic influences in this piece and its Andante movement gives you the meditation and contemplation needed in the space in which it was played. After that, it lightens and was a great middle of the concert.
When one thinks of Alain it is with thoughts full of tragedy. What could he have produced, but for the war which caused his death at a very early age? Maybe that future knowing is what hangs over his music. The ridiculousness and horror of war is showcased in this composer and performers’ life along with a clear showing, in microcosm, of what the world lost. One of the most moving pieces is to hear his Sarabande for Organ, Strings, and Timpani, which he dedicated to the memory of his sister Odile Alain. For a very moving moment, if you can find a recording of it with Marie-Claire Alain on the organ it is a profound experience.
And of course, the ending of the concert. What can I say – a perfect end to continue the rest of your day in a great place. Colin Lynch played Marcel Dupré’s Prelude and Fugue in B Major. Not expected in the middle of the day, but a huge treat and it was incredibly well played – you knew that the presene you felt was Dupré showing up after the first few measures to hear this performance. Brilliantly, technically showing off the virtuosity in Dupré’s composition and played the way it was meant to be played.
I can’t vouch for the rest of the organ concerts because I am not familiar with all of the organists to follow, but these two, Richard Webster and Colin Lynch, made you want to return for more.
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