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Ever since the organ at the Bedford United Methodist Church was renovated and greatly expanded, the PA Consort has wanted to showcase this spectacular instrument in a concert.  On November 15 an immensely talented organist fulfilled our wish.  Bryan Lohr literally pulled out all the stops on the great instrument and gave the audience a marvelous demonstration of organ versatility.

Of course, he began with Bach.  Who else?  The two Bach pieces he played – a Prelude and Fugue and an Allegro from a sonata - were intricate and at the same time dramatic.  The first piece got louder and more complicated as it progressed to a thunderous climax.  What a treat!  We also learned that Bach was thrown in jail by a royal patron whose wishes he had not followed exactly; it was only for a few days, but my goodness….

The second Bach piece and the compositions by Mendelssohn and Sweelinck that followed were different enough that we heard a wide variety of pipes, and the music was beautiful.  The first part of the program ended with a 20th century piece written by Duruflé in memory of a talented young composer killed in World War II.  It was moody and thoughtful and had an incredibly complicated fugue based on the letters of the late composer’s name.

In the second part of the program we heard an Allegro by Widor—not the famous Toccata but an equally interesting and dramatic piece with a dazzlingly loud ending.  A Cantabile by Franck (I looked up the word; it means a piece in a songlike, flowing style) was solemn with a lovely melody twining through it.  The concert ended with a rousing version of Old Hundredth, which I think of as the Doxology.  The variations on the basic melody got more and more complex, with more and more pipes, ending with a grand progression of chords.

I do believe that Bryan Lohr used every pipe in that organ at some point in the concert.  He showed us what a powerful instrument it is and how many glorious sounds can be created by a talented professional such as he is.  We are already looking forward to next November, when he will once again give a concert here, this time joined by the Chamber Orchestra of the Alleghenies.

Nancy MacRae, Schellsburg

The Bedford Gazette, November 22, 2008