Enough with all the talk about what Charlotte may soon lose. Let's take refuge with an addition to the city's music scene.
Sunday afternoon, Sardis Presbyterian Church will present the inaugural concert on its new pipe organ. (Details, Page 15.) Bradley Welch, artist-in-residence at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, will start with J.S. Bach's rumbling Toccata and Fugue in D minor – the kind of piece Bach himself unleashed to test new instruments, Welch noted this week. He'll ultimately pull out all the stops with a barnstorming sonata by Alexandre Guilmant, a French virtuoso of 100 years ago.
As a boy, Welch recalled, he watched his church's organist during services, amazed by the fact that she could play with her hands and her feet at the same time. When he was about 13 – and studying the piano – the flutist lined up for a solo with a church choir took ill. Young Welch was enlisted to play the flute part on the organ. There was no looking back.
“I was just fascinated by this new world of sound – a whole orchestra at your fingertips,” he says.
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Some people, Welch said, think of the organ as a giant mechanical apparatus whose music is majestic but impersonal. But Welch thinks it can have as much nuance as a voice or violin.
“I try to make the organ bend and breathe and dance and sing the way other instruments do,” Welch says. “That's a good challenge. It's worth it when one can make that happen.”