A Mindemoya evening with concert organist Ian Sadler

Rev. Doug Prebble, rector at St. Francis of Assisi Anglican Church in Mindemoya, speaks with Juno Award winning organist Ian Saddler following Mr. Saddler’s organ recital at the church last month at St. Francis church. A capacity crowd enjoyed the program of, largely, music composed for the organ by classical composers.

by Holly Scott

MINDEMOYA­­ – Those who attended the organ concert with world-renowned musician, Ian Sadler, at St. Francis of Assisi Anglican Church in Mindemoya last month found themselves at a wonderfully satisfying evening of music making.

“That was incredible!” said Jack Varieur, after the concert. “I’ve never heard anything like this.”

Juno award winning organist Ian Sadler began his musical training as a child at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, UK. Before moving to Canada, his final engagement in the UK was to play the organ in the movie, ‘Chariots of Fire.’

Mr. Sadler roused the village with the dramatic opening of J.S. Bach’s famous ‘Toccata & Fugue in d minor, BWV 565.’ The familiar low, growling pedal note was held beneath a huge, rolling chord that blended in with the thunder outside.

Next on the programme was a delightful Baroque Suite, a set of pieces by three masters of the period: ‘Finale’ (from ‘Organ Concerto No. 1 in G’) by G.F. Handel; ‘Rondeau’ (from ‘Abdelazer’) by H. Purcell; and ‘Vivace’ (from ‘Trio Sonata in c minor’, BWV 526) by J.S. Bach. These works featured the flute, trumpet and mutation stops, along with rarely heard soft whistles and pedal sounds that were exquisite. 

The ‘Fantasia in f minor, K. 608’ by Mozart was a fantastically complex piece of music, written for a mechanical clock. This lovely piece explored the device of fugue—a reminder that Mozart had studied the music of Bach. When the performer’s two hands and two feet were insufficient, Catharine Sadler assisted with changing the stops at just the right time.

The recital continued with ‘Sonata No. 2 in c minor, Op. 65’ by F. Mendelssohn, a lyrical work that started with a hint of liveliness in spite of its weighty tempo marking. The music, sometimes minor and sometimes major, moved into bold, big sounds with filigree footwork, through the four movements without stopping between. It closed with a wonderful Fugue, during which I pinched myself for losing track of the entries.

Following the intermission, the audience was treated with the opportunity to sing ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,’ the hymn which was chosen twenty years ago when the new Rodgers organ at St. Francis Church was dedicated.

The second half of the program opened with the ceremonial ‘Imperial March Op 32,’ by Sir Elgar, which was composed for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This grand piece used the full range of the instrument, bold one minute, playful the next and then back to finish with grand dignity.

A lovely contrasting work, the gentle ‘Andante Sostenuto’ by C.M. Widor followed. This lyrical piece featured the string and flute stops. The complex harmony was performed with full organ and a double pedal melody that was most pleasing. The audience graciously allowed the sounds to hang in the air as the music faded away to end in silence.

The next piece, ‘Carillon de Longponts’ was composed by Louis Vierne after hearing the bells of the namesake church in France. In this energetic work, we heard the bells first in the driving pedals, then tossed between the hands and feet to finish in a great flourish of virtuosity with full organ.

The ‘Elegiac Prelude’ by the Canadian composer and teacher Gerald Bales was a delicate miniature with a lovely, singable melody that ended on the softest stops of the organ and lingered on the final chord.

The audience had a great chuckle from hearing Noel Rawsthorne’s ‘Hornpipe Humoresque,’ a collection of 8 or 9 little melodies strung together which sounded like a score from a Popeye cartoon. The audience had its work cut out, trying to keep up with the melodic lines, which became more complex as they were layered over multiple instrumentation. This nautical extravaganza was totally enjoyable, bubbly music that simply whizzed along.

Mr. Sadler ended the concert with a difficult Toccata, ‘The Russian Roundabout’ by Georgi Mushel, a suitable flourish to close a fantastic evening. This was a lovingly crafted recital, and evening of exceptional music with an organ virtuoso.