A Festival of Organ Concertos

Posted by Sara Hessel, KMFA Music Director

Organist Keith Womer couldn’t have given his recent concert a more fitting title than “A Festival of Organ Concertos.” The whole thing felt like a celebration — not only of the sonorous pairing of organ and strings, but also of St. Austin’s lovely neo-Baroque pipe organ! The concert was in fact in honor of the 10th anniversary of the dedication and installation of the Laukhuff-Bier Organ at St. Austin’s, an instrument built in the style of an 18th century south German organ.

Keith Womer on the St. Austin's organ

Keith and his gallant band of string players from La Follia Austin Baroque treated us to music by Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, and Handel, along with the famous Adagio for Organ and Strings by Tomaso Albinoni Remo Giazotto.

Hey, wait a minute…

Yes, it’s true! As Keith told us in his entertaining and informative remarks, that famous Adagio was in fact composed by the musicologist responsible for cataloging Albinoni’s works, Remo Giazotto. At first, Giazotto claimed it was a newly rediscovered work by Albinoni. But as time went on, the truth emerged: it was an original work by Giazotto, based on a scant 2-3 measure bass line by Albinoni.

Another musical illusion shattered! But regardless of who wrote it, it sounded magnificent in that space. Concertmaster Go Yamamoto’s solo work was especially moving—the plaintive solo violin contrasted beautifully with the measured intensity of the organ.

The neo-Baroque organ at St. Austin's church

The program concluded with Handel’s beloved F Major Organ Concerto, subtitled “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.” This was definitely the high pointof the evening—the organ absolutely sparkled! In Handel’s time, an organist was expected to improvise parts of a work like this, and being the talented instrumentalist he is, Keith did ol’ George proud with his effervescent performance.

If you get the chance, please go hear the lovely Laukhuff-Bier Organ at St. Austin’s! You can see a list of upcoming events here: http://www.staustin.org/

For more information about future performances by Keith Womer and La Follia Austin Baroque, please visit their website: www.lafollia.org.

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