When St. John’s began livestreaming services in spring 2020, the most frequent comments from parishioners were of joy and delight over being able to see our choir members, musicians, and instruments up close and personal. Well, get ready for the ultimate sneak peek! At the end of August, our very own organist, Elizabeth LaJeunesse, will be taking part in a digital recital, playing the very special organ housed in St. John’s Carter Chapel, a Hill & Davison instrument built in 1838. It’s all part of the Organ Historical Society’s (OHS) “Kaleidoscope of Colors.” This online recital is presented by OHS, an international society of musicians, organbuilders, historians, scholars, and music lovers. Over five Sundays in August 2021, viewers from all over will be treated to music played on 15 instruments from across the country, including an instrument from St. John’s. No tickets required. You simply need an Internet connection!
A preliminary list of more than 100 choices was pared to just 15 selected organs, including the historic Hill & Davison instrument which has been housed at St. John’s for more than 20 years. This news was welcomed by the St. John’s music staff! While the focus is on the instruments, the recitals will be introduced by the talented performers who will play each week’s hymn and variation and share the history of the instrument on which they are performing. St. John’s is honored to have Elizabeth LaJeunesse play this special organ in the digital recital on Sunday, August 22.
“Many of the performers are nationally, and even internationally, known,” said St. John’s Director of Music Betsy Calhoun. “Having Elizabeth on the roster is fantastic!”
Organizers from the Organ Historical Society say this special series would be impossible to replicate at any one in-person event. Going virtual created a unique opportunity! The featured instruments represent three centuries of organ building, and the 15 instruments that will be showcased vary in size, builder, geographic region, and age. The Hill & Davison organ from St. John’s certainly fits the bill! It has a long and entertaining history, and is known to many St. John’s parishioners and community members as the “Jingle Bells Organ,” or the organ on which one of the most famous Christmas carols was composed!
“Playing the Hill & Davison has its challenges as well as its charms, but I love the intimate nature of this little instrument, and I think it does a great job supporting a chapel congregation,” said LaJeunesse. “We were lucky to have our organ chosen for this project out of hundreds of instruments around the country.”
LaJeunesse says she looks forward to sharing the organ’s beauty with people around the world! Mark your calendar for Sunday, August 22, and every Sunday in August, at 5 PM. The recitals are available on the Organ Historical Society’s website.
The Festival Program Book includes a complete guide to the instruments, their provenances and stoplists, pictures and bios of performers, hymn tunes and texts, and even some festive suggestions for food and drink you can assemble at home to accompany your recital viewing.
HOW TO WATCH:
- Visit www.organhistoricalsociety.org
- Click “Watch Kaleidoscope of Colors”
- Begins at 5PM EST each Sunday