Metzger CD features our Opus 80/ Higgs recital review

Our Opus 80 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento, CA , is one of the featured organs on Nancy Metzger’s new CD, “Lofty Ambrosia, organ music of composers born in the 19th century”.

 Metzger, a harpsichordist and organist, recorded two pieces on the 3 manual, 59 rank organ, “Allegro, Chorale & Fugue” by Felix Mendelssohn, and “Grand Choeur” by Theodore Dubois.  Here is how she describes the CD:

“Meet the perfume of the gods!  Discover 7 varieties of music from Europe, England and the United States, all from composers born in the 19th century.  This disc deviates from the expected Baroque literature usually emphasized by Nancy Metzger.  And its not entirely perfume!  This music is strong yet beautifully melodic, taking the listener from the quietest sounds to the total bombast of the loudest reed stops. There is indeed a valid connection between the Baroque era, in which the expressive performer sought to “move the listener,” and the Romantic era, in which the expressive player sought to “move the listener.”  The difference is in how the “passions” were transmitted by the composer in the music.”

To purchase the CD please visit Metzger’s website at http://www.rcip.com/musicadulce


By Nancy Metzger

 The air of excitement in the nave of St. John’s Lutheran Church on the evening of November 8, 2008 was contagious.  If people were mildly curious when they walked in, the curiosity changed to a “wow” quickly.  Those who had never seen the recently restored worship area probably could barely recognize it now.  Hardwood floors and a high, stenciled ceiling with gothic arches spelled not only beauty, but a certainty of improved acoustics for this audience.  They would not be disappointed.  And quick glances towards the rear gallery brought smiles to many.  Not only had the Luther window been restored, but new towers with beautiful casework housed a new organ. 


Aided by a large TV screen, they not only heard, but saw the outer details of the new 3 manual, 59 rank Bedient organ.  Opus 80 incorporates 35 ranks from two previous instruments, which have been revised, reconfigured, and rescaled.  Additionally, 24 new ranks have been added and the organ’s infrastructure has been replaced.  In addition to the new casework, 4 slider windchests, the wind system, the electrical control system and a mobile three manual console are all new.  The organ is organized in 4 divisions:  Great, Pedal, Swell and Choir.  As one who has played this organ, I can tell you that the 7 sets of reeds are fiery, and the low principals are supportive and singing at the same time.


The flawless technique of David Higgs kept all eyes glued to the screen, but our ears received the greater boost.  This was perfect technique coupled with real musicality.  How often do we hear that?  Whether baroque, romantic or 20th century, all of his pieces were played with the necessary sense of style and were just plain wonderful to listen to!  The program rightly began with Bach (Fantasia & Fugue in G Minor) and ended with the Liszt Praeludium & Fugue uber BACH.  Another familiar but lately neglected offering was Franck’s Pièce Héroϊque.    The rest of the program was devoted to works hardly ever heard and seldom played by most organists.  Shame on us for not learning at least some of these gems:  Canon in B Minor by Schumann, Soliloquy by David Conte, Free Fantasia on “O Zion, Haste” and “How Firm a Foundation,” by William Bolcom, Boléro de Concert  by Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wely,  and Sacred Sounds for Organ by George Shearing! 



This dedicatory recital was co-sponsored by the Sacramento Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and St. John’s Lutheran Church.  Generous funding came in the form of a grant to the Sacramento Chapter from the Special Projects Committee of the San Francisco Chapter.


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