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Gerald Carpenter: In 9/11 Tribute, David Gell Plays 400 Years of Organ Classics

Grace Lutheran Church concert features works by Angles, Bach, Buxtehude, Fedak, Martin, Parry ... and David Gell

David A. Gell, Trinity Episcopal Church’s genial, gentle minister of organ and music outreach, will perform a concert of organ masterworks — “in memoriam for the families, friends and first responders of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, and as a benefit for the music ministry — at 3 p.m. Sunday at Grace Lutheran Church, 3869 State St.

Organ immortal Dietrich Buxtehude listens to the music in his head.
Organ immortal Dietrich Buxtehude listens to the music in his head.

Admission to the concert is free, although those attending are, of course, cordially invited to donate what they can in support of the music ministry.

The program covers four centuries of masterpieces for the king of instruments. We will hear works by Franz Tunder (1614-1667), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Padre Rafael Angles (1730-1816), Sir C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918), Alfred V. Fedak (b. 1953), Gilbert M. Martin (b. 1941), and Gell himself.

Western civilization has been developing the organ as a musical instrument since at least the third century B.C., when a chap named Ctesibius of Alexandria invented something called the hydraulis, a water-powered organ played by valves.

The great age of the organ, as the medium for composers of genius, began sometime before 1650 A.D., with the work of Antonio de Cabezón, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Girolamo Frescobaldi. Tunder is believed to have been in Florence, studying with Frescobaldi, when he was called home to Lübeck to take up the post of organist at St. Mary’s Church and thus physically carrying the seed of the North German school of organ composition, which burst into flower with Buxtehude and culminated in the work of Bach, in his own person.

Although many, if not most, of the great classical compositions for organ are secular in form, the instruments were permanently fixed in the churches, due to their great bulk and weight. It is believed that the secularization of the music began when the organists made up preludes and epilogues for the services.

Admission to Gell’s concert, as I said, is free. For more information, call 805.687.2628.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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