For lovers of organ music, Greensboro is blessed not only with an abundance of talented musicians, but also a number of masterfully crafted instruments. Both these artists and instruments will be showcased in a three-day virtual organ festival presented by Music for a Great Space.
“Music for a Great Space started as an organ series, and we’ve always had a commitment to feature organists,” said Rebecca Willie, executive director of Music for a Great Space. The series takes place over three weekends as follows:
7:30 p.m. April 9: Chris Dederer will perform at Christ United Methodist Church, and Dreama Lovitt will perform at West Market United Methodist Church. Dederer’s program will include selections by four composers, including Henry Purcell and William James Mathias. Dederer is organist and children’s music ministry director at Christ UMC. Then, Lovitt will present pieces by Margaret Shelton Meier and Joan Tower. She serves as traditional music director and organist at West Market UMC.
7:30 p.m. April 16: The festival continues with William Allred performing at St. Francis Episcopal Church and Andrew O’Connor performing at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. Allred’s program will include Mendelssohn’s “Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, op. 37, no. 1.” Allred is the organist and choir director at Guilford Park Presbyterian. O’Connor’s program will feature selections by J.S. Bach as well as one of his own compositions. O’Connor is organist and director of music at Our Lady of Grace.
7:30 p.m. April 23: Music scholar-performer Marya Fancey opens the third and final day of the festival with pieces by Caterina Assandra and Florence Price, performed at UNCG’s Organ Hall. Then, John Alexander will perform selections by Edward Elgar and Jeanne Demessieux at First Presbyterian Church, where he serves as principal organist and music director.
All three events will be streamed on Music for a Great Space’s website (musicforagreatspace.org) and are free to the public, although viewers are asked to pay what they feel comfortable paying.
Willie said that with travel limited by the pandemic, Music for a Great Space looked to focus on local musicians.
“We are so lucky to have so many talented musicians. There was a bigger pool of talent than we were able to use,” she said. “They’re all teaching, living and performing in our city.”
For Music for a Great Space, the Organ Festival represents a return to the organization’s roots. It began in 1990 as a series of concerts featuring the Fisk Op. 82 organ at Christ UMC. Music for a Great Space has branched out to other types of music in the subsequent years, but organ music always has been part of its offerings. Willie said she is open to doing another organ festival in the future.
She also said that while Music for a Great Space, like all live music organizations, is looking forward to being able to house live audiences once again, they have learned lessons during the pandemic that they can continue to use. For example, she said the virtual concerts offer an up-close view of the organists as they perform. For example, future live events could feature video screens to give spectators the best of live and virtual performances.
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