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Two unusual organ concerts: Jeff Orr plays a Rachmaninoff concerto at Tacoma church, accompanied by…Jeff Orr, and David Arcus shows off his classical improvisation chops

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Oct. 13, 2011 at 6:26 am with No Comments »
October 11, 2011 10:28 am
Jeff Orr on the Mason United church organ. Courtesy photo.

You’d think it would be difficult enough to play part of Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto without playing the orchestra lines too – but Tacoma organist Jeff Orr will be doing it this weekend at Mason United Methodist Church. As part of a fundraiser concert for the American Cancer Society, Orr will, among other works, play the “Allegro Moderato in G major” from the Rachmaninoff on piano to the orchestral accompaniment played by himself on pipe organ and recorded via the Garage Band software.

Explains Jeff: “The Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ of Mason Methodist Church has a number of stops or ranks that adapt well to the orchestral score…Using Garageband, I am able to record entire sections multiple times using different registrations or stop set-ups, and, by manipulating the software dynamic levels of each track, I can create subtle and instantaneous crescendos and diminuendos and the smooth blending of organ voices,

so that they come remarkably close to resembling a symphonic ensemble.”

Sounds difficult? You bet. The concerto’s first movement has a number of extended piano solos, without orchestra, where Jeff has to follow the laptop readout of his recorded tracks to synchronize his piano solo with his own orchestra entrances.

The rest of the program includes the J. S. Bach favorite Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Joseph Bonnet’s “Titanic: In Memoriam,” Jean Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tuonela” and Leo Sowerby’s Symphony in G Major.

7:30 p.m. Oct. 15. Free, donations to American Cancer Society accepted. Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N. Madison St., Tacoma

Organist David Arcus. Courtesy photo.

Also in the Extreme Organ category, a concert Sunday afternoon at Christ Episcopal features David Arcus, organist at Duke University and renowned improvisor. Arcus will play his own composed variations on well-known hymn tunes as well as works by baroque composers such as Froberger and Bach, then close with an improvisation on a hymn tune voted on by the church’s congregation.

4 p.m. Oct. 16. Entry by donation. Christ Episcopal Church, 310 N. K St., Tacoma. 253-383-1569, www.ccptacoma.org


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