Monday, February 23, 2009

Organist Craig Jaynes concert.

Sometimes a concert is a destination because it doesn’t fit the usual pattern of musical events.

For example, the church organ recital Sunday, February 20, 2009 presented by Craig Jaynes did not fit a pattern at all. Sui generis is the phrase that came to mind.

The concert was at St Mary Catholic Church, in Urbana, Ohio. Not too unusual. A Sunday afternoon organ recital on a church organ.

The organist was Craig Jaynes who is known in Bexley as a landscape designer and in Greene County as a nurseryman and proprietor of Country English Gardens. He also earns a living as a registered nurse with Wilmington’s Community Care Hospice.

Craig’s connection to the concert organ is also part of the program’s departure from the usual pattern of musical events. He is tonal director of Jamestown Organ Works which designed and installed the concert organ at St. Mary during 2007. The organ was dedicated in January 2008.

The first clue that this was an unusual and notable event though was the concert name: “My Favorite Things.”

A hint that the concert is about pleasure. The clue also suggested that the program was personal. The clue also began to set a conversational tone for the event.

On a sunny but cold Sunday afternoon, an audience of perhaps eighty arrived at St. Mary Church.

The church parking lot had patches of ice and there was a light dusting of snow.

Most were couples, perhaps empty-nesters, some grandparents with grandchildren, perhaps some retirees and senior citizens. One young couple with five handsome children, all under twelve and perfectly behaved.

The church building is a well-maintained period piece of the fifties or sixties. Perhaps the seventies. It was built with stressed laminated curved wooden beams that served as columns and support for the roof. The stained glass windows saturated the interior light with blue at the beginning of the concert. As the afternoon sun progressed lower in the sky the light in the sanctuary changed to red hue.

Father Greg Konerman, pastor of St. Mary, reminded the audience that donations left in the free will offering baskets at the entrance doors would support the Urbana Caring Kitchen Shelter. Father Konerman then introduced Craig Jaynes.

The opening selection was Paul Dukas familiar piece “Fanfare” (from La Peri). Craig set the conversational tone for this concert by reminding his audience that this piece is used in the Walt Disney animated movie Fantasia. It is the theme for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

If Craig’s purpose was to display the muscle of the St. Mary organ he could not have chosen a better opening number. The opening cord of Fanfare is shrill, a fantastic screech. Followed by the majesty of the fanfare, the shrill opening cord acts like a gate to another world.

Fanfare is a short piece and Craig finished in under four minutes.

My persistent thought during the first selection was wondering about the priest’s reaction to the opening number being a fanfare to a sorcerer in training? But the keepers of the faith have dealt with that problem for centuries and there was no reason to think Father Konerman couldn't handle it appropriately.

Craig continued with George Frederic Handel”s “Entry of the Queen of Sheba” (from Samson). Even as the Dukas’ “Fanfare” was a gate being opened, the second selection was treated as a processional.

Craig continued with three delightful short pieces that are new to me. Three Renaissance Dances “Alman” by Robert Johnson; “Greensleeves” by Francis Cutting and “Lady Hunsdon Alman” by John Dowland.

Craig offered some personal observations and comment on the use of authentic instruments in period pieces. He noted that the pipes of organs were adjusted to produce sounds imitative of other instruments familiar to period audiences such as the recorder and then sackbut. He offered the caution that using authentic instruments doesn’t mean that a 21st century audience will listen with 16th century ears.

Next were two familiar pieces that are the core of this concert. “Adagio Cantabile” by Johann Sebastian Bach (Virgil Fox arrangement) and “Prelude and Fugue in C Minor” also by Bach. Craig’s introduction to these pieces expressed his wonder at the Bach genius. Craig’s playing of the two pieces expressed his love for this genius. Of all the songs performed in the concert, Craig seemed most at home among the notes of these two Bach standards.

The final number before intermission was Cesar Franck’s “Choral in A Minor.” For a winter concert in a sanctuary, there is no better selection. Craig’s performance showcased the organ, the song and the venue.

Craig used the intermission to lose his eyeglasses and to remind the audience that donations for the Caring Kitchen Shelter were appreciated.

The second half of the concert began with the memorable performance of the afternoon “Theme and Variations” by Josef Rheinberger was performed by violinist Elizabeth Preston with Craig serving ably as her accompanist.

Preston is a junior music major at Cedarville University and her performance was flawless. She is a young woman, blonde and dressed in black. Her serious manner expressed her approach to music but when applause came, she smiled and the sanctuary lit up. I wondered if she was thinking that "applause is one of my favorite things?" Craig is an excellent accompanist and helped Preston showcase her talents.

Rheinberger is a satisfying 19th century composer and is one of few who have paired the organ and violin in his composition. Rheinberger deserves more recognition.

Then followed three pieces that contrast the versatility of the organist and his instrument. “Blue Rhondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck; the dolorous “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber (William Strickland arrangement) and “So Fades the Lovely Blooming Flower,” the George Shearing arrangement.

These are special pieces that showed off the range of the organ and the talent of the organist. Who couldn't accept these as "favorite things?"

The afternoon sun was softening during this portion of concert and the light from the stained glass windows was changing from blue to a more dominant red. So much for Brubeck’s “Blue Rhondo a la Turk.”

As the late afternoon sun softened, I also became aware of the only three white candles burning at the altar.

The concert finished with a somber rendition of “Cortege et Litanie” by Marcel Dupre.

A cautionary note of the cold night to come. Appropriate music to fill a sanctuary and, at long last, a shroud to cover the shrill cord of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

For encores, Craig and violinist Elizabeth Preston performed a piece I didn’t recognize, after Craig introduced it as “too familiar to be introduced." Note that both Craig and even Preston needed sheet music to play this "familiar" piece. As a second encore, Craig led the audience in the familiar hymn “Oh God Our Help In Ages Past.”

A reception in the undercroft followed; brownies, cookies, nuts, coffee, iced tea and punch. I spoke to two Lutherans who are friends but drove separately to the concert from Springfield. The man a lawyer and the woman a church organist.

The return to Bexley was a beautiful Sunday winter drive though the plains and shallow valleys of Champaign county and Madison country. From Urbana to Mechanicsburg to West Jefferson, the empty fields were covered with a light dusting of snow.

The melody of “Lady Hunsdon Alman” hummed in my imagination as we drove to Bexley.


Bexley Public Radio Foundation broadcasting as
WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
2700 E. Main St., Suite 208
Columbus, OH 43209
Voice (614) 235 2929
Fax (614) 235 3008

Bexley Public Radio Foundation is exempt from federal taxes under IRC Section 501(c)(3). Donations are deductible from federal income taxes for individuals who itemize. Checks may identify the payee as Bexley Public Radio Foundation or WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM.

Design is copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio editorial collective.

No comments: