Pipe organ key to symphony concert
World-renowned musician to take center stage
The music of First United
Methodist Church's grand pipe organ will fill the 87-foot-tall sanctuary Friday
evening for the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra
The Murfreesboro Symphony
Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Featured during the concert will be
the First United Methodist Church’s grand pipe organ, its pipes rising above the
symphony, played by renowned organist Andrew Risinger.
(DNJ file photo)
Elliott Peterson - Tenor
Peterson is the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in
Murfreesboro, TN. Mr. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Music from Middle Tennessee
State University where
he studied voice with Dr. Lawrence Hensel and conducting with Dr.
Raphael Blindage Mr. Peterson also holdi a
Master of Arts in Music from Middle Tennessee State University with an emphasis
in Choral Conducting, where he studied choral conducting with Dr. Raphael
Bundage and voice with John Kramer. Mr. Peterson is an active tenor soloist in
the Middle Tennessee area and has appeared in many
productions and concerts at
Middle Tennessee State University and area churches.
Review given by Ms. Ellen Buckner for Daily News Journal
If you have ever been inside the First
United Methodist Church and noticed the organ pipes above the choir loft, and
wondered what it would sound like to have them played full throttle, you found
out at the recent Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra organ concert. Guest artist
Andrew Risinger used every stop, including the copper trumpets, to show what a
magnificent instrument can do. It was thrilling.
The first selection featured a Brass
Quintet from the MSO with organ playing Gigout’s “Grand Choeur Dialogue”. It was
militaristic in the sharp rhythms and very dramatic in the dynamics. The
audience knew it was going to be a wonderful evening.
Risinger introduced each piece with a
little history and telling just what the organ would be producing.
The second selection was Bach’s “Toccata
& Fugue in D minor”. It is a favorite, and several audience members clapped as
it began. One could close eyes and be transformed to the cathedral in Leipzig,
imagining Bach himself playing. The organ sounded exactly as it would have in
The third selection featured the MSO
principal flautist, Carol Fisher Dunne, playing John Weaver’s “Rhapsody for
Flute and Organ”. It was a very modern piece, bringing to mind the German
composer Hindemuth’s avant garde style of writing. At times, the organ stop
matched the sound of the flute so perfectly that you couldn’t tell the
difference. Dunne’s technique is impeccable; the arpeggios fluid and the modern
leaps perfectly on pitch.
The next piece was from Mendelssohn’s
favorite oratorio “Elijah”. Elliot Peterson sang the tenor aria “If With All
Your Hearts” with such beauty. His diction was excellent, even without the mike,
and the tempo gave the audience time to reflect on the text.
The “Adagio in E Major” by Frank Bridge
showed off the full range of the organ’s capabilities with very romantic
melodies and the volume from very soft to thundering fortissimo.
The last piece before intermission was
“Cappricio for Organ & Violin” by Naji Hakim. It featured MSO Concertmaster
Stefan Petrescu in an unusual piece. It was Middle Eastern, jazz, Latin
syncopated rhythms in the organ, against Petrescu’s luscious legato melodies on
the violin. The audience loved it.
After the intermission, Risinger played a
beautiful arrangement by Alex Wyton of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus”. Strayhorn was
a friend of Duke Ellington and this was definitely a jazz piece. It was played
at Ellington’s funeral and has a beautiful, haunting sense throughout. One could
imagine it being played as background for a Hollywood film.
The next piece was one organists waited
for! Louis Vierne’s “Finale” from Symphony 1 features all three keyboards plus
the pedals. It was a marvel to see Risinger’s fingers flying all over the three
keyboards, and his feet flying over the pedals at the same time…like rubbing
your tummy and patting you head at the same time, only at lightning speed.
Bravos from the audience.
One of the most beautiful and beloved
melodies from opera is the “Intermezzo” from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana”.
Stefan Petrescu played it exquisitely, bringing out every nuance and pathos that
is in the melody.
C.M.Vidor’s “Scherzo” from Symphony IV
was very playful and joyous. Scherzo in Italian means joke, and this certainly
was full of frivolity and fun. Vidor’s “Toccato & Fugue” is a favorite of
organists and audiences.
Arranger Mark D. Lew made the old English
Londonderry Air into a beautiful piece better known as “Danny Boy”. Elliot
Peterson sang it with such sadness and poignancy, that the audience held its
applause, not wanting to spoil the moment.
The “Finale” from Alexandre Guilmant’s
Symphonie in D Minor brought out all of the stops, and with the Brass Quintet.
The rhythms, volume, copper trumpets and dynamics thrilled the audience and
shook the sanctuary. The Brass Quintet sounded like a full orchestra with the
organ. It was so dramatic that one might have thought the Gates of Heaven were
about to open.
The audience was on its feet instantly
with many Bravos and whistles and non-stop applause. As people were leaving they
were shaking their heads and saying “Wow
what a concert!” And it truly was.
Risinger is a rising star in the field of
organists. His manner is casual (coming out after Intermission without his coat)
and warm. Explaining each piece and how he would use the organ was not only
educational but informative for the audience, and we knew what to listen for
from the instrument. His selections were varied from Bach to Ellington, and
French to Lebanon, making for a thoroughly wonderful evening.
Ellen Buckner is a former opera singer,
retired college music professor and private voice instructor.
A bit of history on the
Milnar organ at First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, TN. In 1976 we
built a new organ using some pipes and parts from their previous organs. The
organ was increased from a II manual into a III manual. The historic church
building was in downtown Murfreesboro and has been converted into a bank. The
new building was built on the north side of the city. We re-designed the organ,
almost doubled its size and re-voiced it for its new acoustical environment. It
was the family of George and Kib Huddleston that funded both projects.
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