Organist Jenny Vincent will give her first concert in several years at Knox United Church (345 Pym St.) in Parksville on September 29th.
Vincent, who has performed in cities across North America and Europe, performed concerts in Parksville with CBC science reporter Bob McDonald, which combined science and music. The shows were a hit and were repeated in Victoria and Vancouver.
She hopes to show people that the organ is so much more than something you hear in church on Sunday mornings.
“The organ is an incredible instrument,” she said. “He can play anything. I sound like an orchestra.
Vincent said modern organ concerts are much more visual and exciting – the days of the organist being hidden in an organ pit are over.
The Knox United Church organ can be moved around center stage
“You have cameras on you and people are blown away by the physique of the organ playing,” she said.
“You play with your feet, you play with your hands.” His performance consists of playing three keyboards with his hands, plus the pedals at his feet.
This month’s ‘Pedal Mania’ concert will be a solo performance, with Vincent covering everything from Bach to jazz to selections from The Carnival of the Animals (The Carnival of the animals), a humorous musical suite by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
“These are orchestral transcriptions and they’re kinda cute.”
Vincent has eclectic taste, but as an organist she finds herself drifting towards Bach.
“Anything Bach, just because it’s so difficult and it pushes your techniques forward,” she said.
She can’t wait to play again in Knox United, known for their impressive acoustics, which enhance the sound of an electric organ. Vincent was instrumental in fundraising while he was Knox’s musical director.
A big part of the campaign was the concert series, organWORX, which involved McDonald, Vancouver harpist Janelle Nadeau and a world-class project choir called the Schooner Cove Singers.
“It looks gorgeous,” Vincent said. “And when the organ came, I didn’t want it to be like the traditional way they set up electric organs.”
Traditionally, all the speakers are at the front, as if it were a pipe organ. Instead, Vincent had the organ installed to allow surround sound.
“You can close your eyes and you can think you’re actually in a cathedral.”
Before going on stage to perform, she prepares herself through meditation and deep breathing.
The organ runs in his family. Vincent’s parents were immigrants from the Netherlands, where the organ is very popular, including with his father.
She started learning the instrument at the age of six. “I couldn’t even reach the pedals back then,” Vincent said.
She and her husband Paul said they are both very grateful for the support from Knox United and the community over the years.
“We’ve had concerts that have drawn up to 350 people,” Paul said. “And I would say probably the biggest numbers at Knox over the last five to six years were gigs that Jenny had done with Bob McDonald and so on and that was a great introduction to the community as a whole about what this organ, this wonderful instrument, was all about.
Tickets for the 1:30 p.m. concert are $20 and are available on Vincent’s website, Eventbrite, and at the door.
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