There’s a new instrument in town, and organist Jenny Vincent is excited to show everyone what it can do.
After a very successful set of organ concerts that she conducted at St. Mark’s Anglican Church last year, Vincent (the music leader for Knox United Church) and other Knox members realized just how much demand there is for both classical music and organ music in the area, she said. So they embarked on a new fundraising project to purchase a state-of-the-art digital organ to showcase Vincent’s skills and attract musicians to the area.
Starting off last winter, the fundraiser went extremely well, said Vincent, with nearly $60,000 being raised in just three months.
Now, Knox has purchased a $93,000 Rodgers 599 Artist model digital organ and Vincent is preparing to introduce it to the community.
A dedication and mini concert featuring Vincent on the organ will take place June 11 at 2 p.m. at the church, with admission by free-will offering, she said.
Her aim will be to demonstrate the many sounds and styles that the organ can produce, she said.
“It’s not going to be a traditional classical concert,” explained Vincent. Though she’ll begin with Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, she’ll move on to perform a Mozart piece but with the sound of a symphony, a guitar concerto with a pre-recorded orchestra and Vincent playing the guitar part with the organ, and finally a rock song as well — possibly Smoke on the Water, she said.
But that’s just the start of the community’s introduction.
A three-concert subscription series is planned, with the first performance scheduled for Sunday, September 24 with science journalist and Quirks and Quarks host Bob McDonald.
Entitled Cosmic Odyssey, the concert will feature Vincent performing “music from the cosmos” like Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, while McDonald narrates NASA images and video.
Next a harpist — Janelle Nadeau — from Vancouver will join Vincent on January 14, while the third, May 28 concert will feature Durufle’s Requiem and music by Canadian composers.
The concert series is meant to pay off the remaining $36,500 owing for the organ, as well as attempt to bring in music lovers of all ages to discover what an organ can do.
The series will cost $75, or $30 for each concert individually.
Vincent herself got her love for the instrument from her father. Both she and her brother were enrolled in organ lessons, and both gained a passion for it. Vincent hopes to change the common perspectives on what organs are for.
“The organ, in the last I would say 20 years, had become an instrument that people think is just a dirgey or church instrument,” she said. “So I want to get the organ out in the mainstream, just like the piano and the violin is. The way it used to be. And I think there is a bit of a comeback. “
The community certainly showed its support with its reponse to the fundraiser, Vincent said, wanting to thank its many supporters.
Though Vincent will be performing the first concert series, she said the instrument is sure to draw organists from beyond the Island and even around the world. She hopes to join forces with Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver to provide multiple venues for organists.