The needler in the haystack.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Annual Festival of Organists at Crescent Church Sunday


Each white button (called a stop) produces a different sound
when drawn by the organist.



Crescent Concerts' music director Cliff Parrish has put together an outstanding selection of area organists for this year's annual Festival of Organists at Plainfield's Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church this Sunday (March 19) at 3:00 PM.

This year's lineup includes --

  • Brian Preston Harlow, organist and choirmaster of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Gladstone and music theory teacher at Newark Boys Chorus School;

  • Colin MacKnight, C.V. Starr doctoral fellow at the Juilliard School and assistant organist at New York City's Church of the Resurrection (Episcopal);

  • Thomas Rodgers is the director of music at the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church, where he has served since 1976; and

  • Barbara Thompson, who is Voorhees Chapel organist at Rutgers, organist and director of music at the Congregational Church of Westfield as well as Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston.
Together, they will put Crescent Avenue's acclaimed 97-rank Gilbert Adams organ through its paces. One of the things that I find exciting about the organ is that the organist has really got a sort of symphony at her or his fingertips -- each rank of pipes represents a unique sound -- and part of the magic is the skill with which each organist selects the sounds to go with the music being played -- from the softest whisper to the mighty roar of a "tutti" registration.

The organ festival also brings out a spirit of -- oftem playful -- competitiveness as each organist demonstrates their skill in both performance and registration, sort of a "can you top this?" challenge from each to the others.

The title for this year's festival -- "Pipe Dreams" -- is a nod to a popular syndicated organ program heard on public radio stations across the US and Canada. It is produced by American Public Media and can be heard in our area on WQXR (105.9 FM) and WNYC (93.9 FM), at 11:00 PM Sunday evenings. For other stations, see list here.

Tickets are $20/person, $15/seniors and $5 for students, and may be bought at the door. A reception will follow the program.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking in the church lot on First Place, on the street, or in the Swain Galleries lot.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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