Yun Kim plays the 57-rank Dobson organ at First Presbyterian Church, Battle Creek, Michigan, which incorporates remaining ranks of the church’s much rebuilt 1928 E. M. Skinner op. 720, some later ranks from previous rebuildings, and mostly new principal choruses and some other new stops and new mechanism. Yun is organist of Christ Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio, and a winner of regional and national AGO competitions and, later, adjudicator of organ competitions.
William Grant Still: Summerland, arr. Edouard Nies-Berger
Prokofiev: Toccata, op. 11 trans. Jean Guillou
Robert Ampt: Concert Etude on an Australian Folk Tune Pub with No Beer
Iain Farrington: Fiesta!: Fast Dance, Conversations, Nocturne, Finale
Brahms: Herzlich tut mich erfreuen, op. 122, no. 4
Bach: Toccata in C, BWV 566a
Vierne: Les Cloches de Hinckley; Clair de lune (Pièces de fantaisie)
by Yun Kim
During his second concert tour in England in 1925, Louis Vierne, the famed titulaire of Notre Dame de Paris, played a recital at St. Mary’s Church in the small town of Hinckley. One night during his stay, he was kept awake by the church carillon. Inspired by this experience (or perhaps in spite of it), Vierne penned Les Cloches de Hinckley, his “other” carillon-based work among the 24 Pièces de fantaisie. An idyllic opening introduces the distant echo of bells which gradually becomes louder and more animated, serving to accompany the main theme which first appears in the pedal. This theme then moves to different voices and explores various keys, inversion and canon, and develops into a climactic build-up to full organ. The brilliant conclusion, with the theme thundering in the pedal in true French style, is notable for its “pealing” cascade of descending E-major scales heard 28 times in succession.
Although beauty is found in all four of the seasons, I have a special affinity for the spirit and peacefulness of summer. Much of the program on this compact disc was originally presented by me in performance at an American Guild of Organists Regional Convention in July, 2013, and I felt inspired at the time to include a sort of “summertime diptych” of two pieces evocative of the season. Summerland was originally the second movement of Three Visions (1936) for piano by William Grant Still, a leading African-American composer of the last century. Later arranged by the composer for different instrumentations and by Edouard Nies-Berger for organ (1944), Summerland evokes a lazy, warm late summer afternoon.
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen is among the lesser-heard of the eleven choral preludes composed by Brahms near the end of his life. The lovely chorale tune is rendered with pianistic arppegiation; the text by Johannes Walter (1496-1570) praises spiritual renewal: "My heart rejoices in the wonderful summertime: God will make everything beautifully, eternally new. The heavens and earth will be created anew, all creatures will become wondrously beautiful and clear."
Undoubtedly the most popular toccatas in the organ repertoire are the famous Bach D Minor (BWV 565) and Widor’s warhorse from Organ Symphony No. 5. Perhaps it might be refreshing to hear two of their lesser-heard counterparts:
J. S. Bach’s Toccata C Major, BWV 566a is an early work that reflects the stylus phantasticus favored by North German organ masters in the 17th century such as Buxtehude, Lübeck, and Bruhns. It is evident that the ambitious young Bach was inspired to write an extensive organ praeludium within a multi-sectional framework: a free style opening toccata is followed by an extended and playful fugue, which then moves into a bold arpeggiated interlude setting up a stately second gigue fugue that ultimately concludes in a celebratory flourish. The work is better known in its original E-major version (BWV 566); and although the C major version recorded here was likely a transposition by one of Bach’s contemporaries to allow for more successful rendering on instruments employing meantone temperament, performing the work in C major today provides a different musical effect embodying a more youthful spirit, yet wanting for nothing in terms of sheer majesty.
Clearly the warhorse of piano toccatas, Sergei Prokofiev’s Toccata has been a showpiece for virtuoso pianists since its premiere in 1912. Dominating the soundscape is a powerful rhythmic aggressiveness and a structure that gradually ratchets up the tension in the listener to nearly the breaking point just before the cacophonous climax. Jean Guillou’s muscular organ transcription leaves all registration choices to the performer, and the exploration of a variety of tone colors adds yet a different dimension of excitement to the work.
Robert Ampt, the Sydney City Organist since 1978, wrote his Concert Etude in 1991 based on Gordon Parson’s comic Australian folk song Pub with No Beer, whose melody bears a curious resemblance to Stephen Foster’s famous song Beautiful Dreamer. This lighthearted and off-the-beaten-path work is in six variations, including a 42-measure pedal solo of nearly two-minutes duration (!) and a rousing toccata with the melody in canon.
Mention the words “impressionist” and “moonlight” in the same sentence, and almost certainly thoughts will turn to Debussy. But one should not overlook Monsieur Vierne’s exquisite Clair de lune from his second suite of Pièces de fantaisie. This poetic work contains soaring vocal lyricism and ethereal dreamlike passages, and offers an ideal vehicle to display the glorious harmonic flute built by Dobson for First Presbyterian Battle Creek – certainly one of the finest examples of this stop in any American organ. The piece is dedicated to Ernest Skinner.
Iain Farrington is a young contemporary British composer who has had an exceptionally busy and diverse career as an organist, pianist, composer and arranger. His music absolutely bristles with youthful vitality and virtuosity, and exhibits an unabashed flair and appeal that makes it worthy of a much wider audience. The present recording concludes with four movements from his Fiesta!, a suite in a bright, jazzy style. The composer writes:
"Fiesta is music about celebrations and merry-making. In seven short movements, the mood is unashamedly joyous, ranging from wild excitement to intimacy. Despite the title, there are no Spanish elements in the music. Fast Dance consists of pounding, foot-stomping rhythms; the lively natterings and gossipings of individuals are heard in Conversations, arguing and laughing about life. As the festivities draw on, a bluesy Nocturne slackens the pace, with an improvisatory solo at the heart of the movement. Renewed energy is found in the Finale, a carefree fugue that breaks into a frantic dance. The celebrations are nearly brought to a premature conclusion by pounding protestations from the neighbors, but this is a party that could go on and on …"
Yun Kim, Organist
Concert organist Yun Kim is widely hailed for her electrifying performances, and is especially renowned for her inventive and captivating programming that appeals to both casual music lovers and seasoned musicians alike. Concert reviewers have described her as “remarkable” (The American Organist), “uniquely spectacular” (Hope College Anchor), and that she “plays with great sensitivity and great élan” (The Diapason). Among her frequent solo engagements have been performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Washington National Cathedral, historic Skinner organs at Stambaugh Auditorium (Youngstown, Ohio), Holy Rosary Cathedral (Toledo) and Hope College (Holland, Michigan); Methuen Memorial Music Hall (Methuen, Massachusetts), Ohio University and Miami University performing arts series, and as a featured recitalist at multiple National Conventions of the Organ Historical Society and Regional Conventions of the American Guild of Organists. She has recorded for the MSR Classics and Raven labels, and her performances have been broadcast nationally on Pipedreams and Seattle Public Radio’s From the Organ Loft.
After completing undergraduate organ study with Carole Terry at the University of Washington, Yun received her doctoral degree in organ performance with minors in early music and music theory from Indiana University in Bloomington, where her principal teachers were Christopher Young and Elisabeth Wright. She has also studied and performed in northern Germany and France, and made her French debut in Paris at Sainte-Clotilde in 1997. She is honored to be the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
Dr. Kim is a prize winner of regional and national competitions in organ performance sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, and has been a performance adjudicator at AGO conventions and the Fort Wayne National Organ Competition and the Competition Coordinator for the Great Lakes AGO Region. She is past Dean of the Dayton, Ohio, Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Yun has served on the faculty of three Pipe Organ Encounter programs and has chaired the Dayton Church Music Workshop. She serves Sinclair Community College as organ faculty and is organist and choirmaster at Christ Episcopal Church in Dayton.
by John Panning, Tonal Director, Dobson Organ Builders, Ltd.
The organ at First Presbyterian Church began its musical life in 1928 as opus 720, a classic example of the work of Ernest M. Skinner. It was one of four instruments in Battle Creek built by the Skinner firm in the late twenties. Beginning in the 1950s, tonal changes were made: pipes salvaged from a local Johnson replaced several ranks; in the 1960s Casavant added a Great Mixture and replaced the entire Choir save for the original Skinner Clarinet; finally, in 1979 the organ was extensively overhauled by George B. Price of Tekonsha, Michigan, with new windchests and pipework added to the existing mechanisms. At this point, the Skinner organ was essentially no longer, save for the main windchests and a half-dozen ranks of pipes.
By the late 1980s, the organ was plagued by mechanical problems in both the console and the windchests, and it was apparent to First Presbyterian that a corrective, long-range plan ought to be developed. In 1991, Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, was asked to develop such a plan. The proposal described a new instrument which reused as much material of the old organ as possible in a way which was consistent with Dobson’s philosophy of mechanical reliability and tonal quality. A contract for this work was signed in April 1993.
The basic layout of the organ, with Great and Pedal in the left chamber and Swell over Choir in the right, was retained from the original Skinner organ. It was decided that the original Skinner windchests, extensively and unfortunately modified by Price in 1979, would be replaced with electric-slider windchests. Existing components included in the new organ are some reservoirs, the original blower, static reservoirs and metal windlines, the 1979 Pedal windchest, the original tremolos and swell engines, the original framing and swell fronts, as well as nearly all existing pipes from the previous organ. An entirely new console, combination action and switching system were provided. Unlike the previous console (which replaced Skinner’s original), the new console is movable; though it controls a much larger instrument, it is smaller in every dimension than the old console.
Significant features of the new instrument’s tonal design are a substantially new principal chorus on the Great, a completed principal chorus in the Choir, and the addition of important new solo colors such as the Great Harmonic Flute and Cornet, and the Choir Tuba.
First Presbyterian Church, Battle Creek, Michigan
1994 Dobson Organ Builders, Ltd., Lake City, Iowa
1928 Skinner Organ Company, Boston, Mass., op. 720 *pipes remaining from Skinner
1950s-1979 changes by several parties
16' Violone 1–32 old*, 33–61 new
8' Principal 1-14 new, 15-61 old
8' Bourdon 1-14 new, 15-61 old
8' Harmonic Flute 1-12 fr Bour 13-61 new
4' Octave 1-61 new
4' Nachthorn 1-61 new
2-2/3' Twelfth 1-61 new
2' Fifteenth 1-61 new
1-3/5' Seventeenth 1-61 new
V Cornet 8' f18 - c49 mounted; 96 old, 64 n
IV Mixture 1' 244 pipes, old
16' Contra Trumpet 1-56 old, 57-85 new
8' Trumpet 1-61 new
4' Clarion from Contra Trumpet
8' Tuba from Choir
Swell to Great 16' 8' 4'
Choir to Great 16' 8' 4'
16' Bourdon 1-61 old
8' Geigen Principal 1-61 old*
8' Chimney Flute 1-61 old*
8' Salicional 1-8 new, 9-61 old*
8' Celeste 1-7 new, 8-61 old*
4' Octave 1-61 old
4' Flute 1-61 old*
2' Octavin 1-61 old
V Mixture 2' 305 pipes, 209 old*, 96 new
16' Bassoon 1-61 old
8' Trumpet 1-61 old
8' Oboe 1-61 old*
Swell to Swell 16' 4'
8' Gedeckt 1-61 old
8' Gemshorn 1-61 new
8' Celeste FF 6-61 new
4' Spitz Principal 1-61 old
4' Chimney Flute 1-61 old
2-2/3' Nazard 1-61 old
2' Octave 1-61 new
2' Recorder 1-61 old
1-3/5' Tierce 1-61 old
IV Sharp Mixture 1' 244 pipes, new
8' Clarinet 1-61 old*
8' Tuba+ 1-61 new, hooded
Chimes 22-42 old*
Choir to Choir 16' 4'
Swell to Choir 16' 8' 4'
Choir Separation+ allows Tuba to play on Choir manual while the remainder of the Choir can be coupled to other manuals.
32' Resultant Contrabass and Subbass
16' Open Wood 1-32 old
16' Contrabass from Great
16' Subbass 1-44 old
8' Octave 1-44 old
8' Bourdon from Subbass
4' Choralbass from Octave
4' Flute 1-32 old
IV Mixture 2' 128 pipes, old
32' Contra Bassoon 1-12 new, Gr. Con Trum
16' Trombone 1-44 new
16' Bassoon from Great Contra Trumpet
8' Trumpet ext. Trombone
4' Clarion ext. Great Contra Trumpet
4' Schalmei 1-32 new
8' Tuba from Choir
Great to Pedal 8'
Swell to Pedal 8'
Choir to Pedal 8'