All you Francophiles!

This Sunday evening at 7:30, we will have the opportunity to hear an all-French program performed by organist William Wisnom. First of all, I personally always feel so fortunate to be able to listen to our stunning Möller pipe organ from the nave of our church: it sounds much different out in the room than it does at the console. This is not uncommon with great pipe organs. The resonance of a vast space is every bit as important as the pipework itself. The concert will begin with the monumental opening movement of Widor’s Sixth Symphony and will conclude the Messiaen’s “Dieu Parmi Nous” (“God Among Us”) from La Nativité, a work highly influenced by the French Impressionist composers. You can find the entire program on our website. Not to be missed!

I fell in love with the sound of the harpsichord when I was thirteen or so, possibly because a radio-show host had just given me a three-LP set of recordings (discarded by the radio station) of the now late Igor Kipnis (son of Russian bass, Alexander Kipnis) – how inspiring that music was! Soon, I would be taking my earnings as a substitute organist and running off to the record store in search of performances of Bach, Scarlatti, and other Baroque composers. In December, so many people commented on both the sound and decoration of the harpsichord that was employed for the Messiah concert, that I think you might enjoy some background information. Built by D. Jacques Way in Stonington, Connecticut, it is my own instrument which I purchased in 1984 shortly after I completed my Masters degree at The Juilliard School. It was chosen for me by Lionel Party, who taught harpsichord at the Curtis Institute and at Juilliard – I cherish this instrument, and I hope that you will have the opportunity to hear it often.

As for harpsichordist and Paris resident, Jory Vinikour, I will explain the sequence of events that led to my inviting him to perform at River Road. Last October, Louise and I spent an evening with my harpsichord teacher, Huguette Dreyfus, at her apartment overlooking the Seine in Paris – she gave us a four-course dinner, ringing a little bell to summon the cook/server for each course – unforgettable! In advance of the trip, I had heard rumors (now confirmed by me to be false) that Madame Dreyfus’ health had deteriorated, and that she was no longer living in the beautiful apartment that she had occupied for several decades – hence, her postal mail address would then have become outdated. Out of concern, and knowing that I would want to visit her, I contacted one of my classmates from my year of study in Paris, and he, unaware of any recent news, got me in touch with the renowned harpsichordist, Jory Vinikour, who had also studied with Dreyfus. When I learned that Jory would be visiting the state of Virginia to record a new album this week, I seized the opportunity to include him in our Concert Series on February 3 at 3:00. Since then, he was nominated for a Grammy – he will attend the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10, right after his recital here. Another great musical event – not to be missed!

See you in church.

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