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Double-dip of organ

by Eric COBHAM

Double-dip of organ

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The First Annual International Benefit Organ Concert for Children was presented at St Mary’s Anglican Church, under the patronage of Prime Minister David Thompson, and in association with the Canadian High Commission to Barbados.It featured the Swiss-Canadian organist Dr Justin Bischof and the Barbadian-born organist Dr Sean Jackson playing on the church’s three-manual Rogers organ.  The concert began with a spirited rendition of a transcription for four hands of the first movement Allegro con Brio of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for orchestra. The high-precision performance, involving lightning changes of keyboards and skilfully varied registration to highlight the various sections of the piece, achieved a very dramatic and pleasing effect. The second selection featured Sean Jackson playing the toccata-like B Major Prelude, Opus 7 No.1 by Marcel Dupre. Jackson’s fast-paced, accurate performance featured brilliant keyboard figures over a strongly rhythmic striding pedal part which alternated with more lyric passages for the hands and brilliant figures for the pedal. Justin Bischof began his individual contribution with the first of three improvisations. He improvised for several minutes on the themes We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Let It Snow, beginning with what sounded like the musical interpretation of a storm but soon developing a more lyrical character.The music had a witty jazz-like character, using classical composition techniques instead of jazz riffs. This was followed by Sean Jackson playing the J.S. Bach Prelude and Fugue In D Major BWV 532. For me, this piece was the highlight of the concert.Jackson offered a well-paced, balanced performance in which he made excellent choices of articulations, tempi and registrations, which served to illustrate the character of the various sections of the piece.For his second improvisation Bischof used themes from. Barbadian folk-songs Beautiful Barbados, Brumley And Belleplaine and Lick And Lock Up.  The third improvisation used a hymn tune, Emmerton and appropriately, given Bischof’s background, the Canadian National Anthem O Canada.As with any excellent performer, Bischof left us wanting more.The two improvisations were interspersed with Sean Jackson’s interpretation of the Finale of the Symphony No. 6 In B Minor by Louis Vierne. Sean Jackson’s final offering was a charming, skilfully wrought rhythmic medley of Island In The Sun, Nobody’s Business and If You See My Little Brown Girl relieved by short lyrical connecting interludes. The two artistes completed the concert with a majestic interpretation of a four-handed version of The Bohatyr Gate At Kiev, the final movement of the suite Pictures At An Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.The concert was presented on Father’s Day as a gift from Sean to his father. Everyone appreciated this rare experience of hearing two organ virtuosos on the same occasion.