Organ, Piano & Harpsichord Recital - Book of Noels
Organ Recital at Incarnation Episcopal Church
By Maria Vilaboy
My family and I attended the Presentation of the First Book of Noels, Opus 60 of Felix-Alexandre Guilmant given by organist, harpsichordist and pianist, Beth Zucchino. The concert was a series of Noels from the 1800’s written by the French organist-composer Alexandre Guilmant. The music was really enjoyable and festive. My favorite piece was the Offertorie (no. 3) sur le noel Joseph est bien marie as parts of it reminded me a little of Beethoven’s Gloria mass that is often performed during the holidays.
Listening to these carols in this older, beautiful church really added to the experience as well as it was easy to imagine hearing these songs at a Sunday service back in the 19th century.
One of the songs sounded sort of Irish and after the program the organist mentioned that it was actually a Scottish drinking song. Supposedly back in those days the churches tried to get more people to attend services so they sometimes incorporated familiar songs of the day.
Although much of the music sounded lovely and simple, it didn’t seem like it would be simple to play. The organist really used her whole body, playing the keys, pushing buttons and pressing pedals with her feet. Watching her feet was very interesting as they really moved on some songs and I was really impressed with how many things she was doing at once. I have always been a fan of pipe organs and but this one was different than any I had seen before. After the concert, several of us were standing close to the organ admiring it but it would have been really nice if someone could have described or explained in general how the organ works.
The organist also talked a little about the composer before the program and she mentioned that he wrote this series of pieces for his 18 year old daughter who was an organist at their family’s church. It made me think that although we have come so far in many ways especially with technology since the 1800’s, it seems we have lost such an important part of our culture. Back then it seemed like it was common for many children to learn to play music and to even become accomplished musicians. Now it seems that even though our society listens to more music than in the old days and there is much more music available to hear, there are unfortunately less of us actually playing it.
For more information on Classical Sonoma – please visit their web site: www.ClassicalSonoma.org
And to learn more about Beth Zucchino's concerts, etc. - please visit
And for your listening pleasure – try Michael Barone's nationally distributed, well-received, and long-time American Public Media-based program "Pipe Dreams" exploring the art of the pipe organ as one of numerous possible references. Pipedreams is a nationally broadcasted radio station in the US. ~ http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2009/0950
Labels: LIVE PERFORMANCE