Mary Preston dedicates Buzard op. 34

Following up on an old post, a Buzard organ went in down in Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church, near Racine, WI (in the town of Mount Pleasant, logically enough …) and the Milwaukee AGO chapter and the church co-sponsored a wonderful program by Mary Preston on April 22, 2007. The builder’s page on the organ is found here. The chapter’s Pipenotes newsletter contains details and an organ spec, but not the full program, so I’ll only give you a few highlights.

A talk beforehand by the builder, John-Paul Buzard, and acoustician Scott Riedel gave an idea of what they were up against, and still are to some degree. Basically, only a few acoustic improvements could be made in the unusual space, and then it was up to the builder to make the sound work in the dead space. The choice was a very dark sound, which supported singing well with a fine foundational feeling in the “gut”, but which at times left one at least wanting a little bit of bite and brilliance. Still, the choice might have been wise considering that many seats are very close to the organ, so a bit more to the brighter side and these folks might be blasted out of their seats.

Mary Preston’s program exploited the instrument well… my biggest memory is the Joseph Jongen “Sonata heroique”, a fiendish work which got a brilliant reading in the daunting acoustic. A rich clarinet and solo flutes were the highlights of the soft parts, and the copper chamade reed did not at all “part your hair” but capped the full organ quite nicely. More as I remember it…

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