by Michael Caruso

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, will host “Organists of Eastman” Sunday, April 10, 5 p.m. The concert will feature three organ students of the Eastman School of Music Rochester, New York, playing three concerti for organ and orchestra on the church’s world-famous 1956 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. The instrument was the last completed by G. Donald Harrison, and its 114 ranks make it one of the largest church pipe organs in the world. Also performing will be the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the “Ann Stookey Fund for Music at St. Paul’s.”

The program’s repertoire will span nearly 200 years. The “Concerto in G major for Organ and Orchestra” by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach was composed in 1755; Josef Rheinberger’s “Concerto for Organ and Orchestra” was written in 1894; and Francis Poulenc’s “Concerto in G minor for Organ, Timpani and Strings” was composed in 1938. The organ at St. Paul’s Church was designed in the classic American symphonic style, with choirs of registrations that replicate the sounds of the various sections of a symphony orchestra: strings, woodwinds and brass. Paired with an actual orchestra, the performance on the Aeolian-Skinner with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will sound almost as though given by two separate instrumental ensembles.

The three soloists are Caroline Robinson, Brian Glikes and Adam Detzner. All three study under David Higgs at the Eastman School. Robinson is already familiar to Chestnut Hillers. While a student of Alan Morrison at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she was the inaugural organ scholar at St. Paul’s Church for three years. She currently serves as the assistant organist at Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester and is pursuing her master’s degree in organ performance and literature.

Brian Glikes is a doctoral student and the director of music at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fairport, NY. He was previously the organist at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville, Georgia, and the organ scholar at Christ Church in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Adam Detzner, a 2014 graduate of Stanford University, is now a first-year master’s student at Eastman. He is an organ scholar at Trinity Episcopal Church, Copley Square in Boston. Trinity has a special “Philadelphia connection.” Phillips Brooks became its rector after serving in the same capacity at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia. It was while he served at Holy Trinity that he wrote the words to the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” following a trip to the Holy Land.

The “Ann Stookey Fund for Music at St. Paul’s” was established in 2012 to provide funds for the maintenance of the church’s Aeolian-Skinner organ. Stookey was a longtime member of the parish and its choir. Her family established the Fund in her memory upon her death in 2012.

For more information about “Organists of Eastman,” visit stpaulschestnuthill.org/organists-of-eastman.

MUMMERS’ DELIGHT

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, performed “Mummers’ Delight: A Renaissance Menagerie” Saturday, March 19, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The regular band of period instrumentalists was enhanced by the presence of mime Mark Jester and narrator/actress Sabrina Mandell for a romp through music dealing with the animal kingdom.

With sections of the program bearing titles such as “The Crocodile,” “The Flea and Love,” “A Veritable Menagerie,” “The Bear, “Winged Creatures,” “The Ape” and “The Horse Into Battle,” one could easily imagine the kinds of sounds Renaissance instruments and instrumentalists were called upon to produce. But for those of us who have known Piffaro throughout its nearly four decades of history, fantasy always becomes reality, and reality is always presented with the utmost of technical dexterity and interpretive panache.

One of the seminal changes from the late medieval style to that of the Renaissance was the emergence of full consorts of instruments spanning the lowest to the highest of ranges. Ensembles of dulcians, sackbuts, recorders and shawns joined harp, lute, guitar and percussion to recreate the tones and timbres we humans think the denizens of the animal kingdom make as part of their conversations. The amazing aspect of Saturday evening’s concert was how well composers of so many centuries ago managed with their limited means to evoke nature’s languages.

I would be mightily amiss if I didn’t mention what a wonderful job Sabrina Mandell managed narrating the program and Mark Jester accomplished making visual the sounds the musicians were producing.

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