The instrumental concert series Orgue Avenir is officially underway. Every Sunday of November, at 3 p.m., a different musician will perform at the Church of St. John the Evangelist. The entry fee is a voluntary contribution with all proceeds funding the first step of the restoration of the church’s organ.
The artists, some of the best performers in the city, and arguably the province, will present musical pieces from diverse backgrounds and with different themes.
The first week will showcase Austrian and German music from the 18th century to the 1960s, as interpreted by Jonathan Oldengarm. Oldengram is a five-time decorated artist with national and international titles. He has performed in Asia, Europe and North America and is currently the musical director at the Presbyterian Church of St. Andrews since 2008.
In the second week, Patrick Wedd will be presenting a concert on the theme of Toccata, a popular piece of Italian music. Wedd’s passion for music began at the age of 12 when he joined the local church choir. He then earned diplomas in organ performance at both the Universities of British Columbia and Toronto and has played throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and England. The international performer is also the founder of the Musica Orbium choral ensemble. Since 1996, Wedd has served as the music director at the Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal.
The third week will showcase a chronology of German music, from the early Baroque period to the Romantic era, presented by Julie Pinsonneault. Pinsonneault graduated from the Gatineau Conservatory of Music and is currently finishing her Bachelor’s degree in music performance at McGill University.
Despite being only 21 years old, she has acquired experience by participating in the organ marathon Les 24 heures du Banc, The Canadian Music Contest, The Orgue et Couleurs music festival, Lynnwood Farnam Organ Competition, and has taken part in the Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition in Russia. Pinsonneault has even founded her own concert series, Piacevole, in 2010 and is currently working as an organ scholar at the Church of St-John the Evangelist.
During the fourth and final week, organist Yves Préfontaine will perform anniversary selections as tributes to Jean Titelouze, Johann Ludwig Krebs and Robert Alexander Schumann, some of the great classical composers. The tribute will be in honour of the composers’ 450th, 300th, and 350th anniversaries respectively. Préfontaine studied organ and harpsichord at the Montreal Music Conservatory, where he was awarded first prize for both instruments. He continued his musical studies in Amsterdam.
This talented musician also founded the music department at the Marie-Victorin CEGEP, of which he was the director for ten years. To this day, he is the titular organist at the Grand Séminaire and the Marie-Reine-des-Coeurs Sanctuary. He is also the co-leader of Orgues et Cimes, a summer academy in Switzerland.
The amount of variety in the series is astonishing because of the different backgrounds of the artists.
After the one-hour show, music director Federico Andreoni invites everyone to meet the artists with snacks and drinks.
The goal of these concerts is to dissociate the instrument from liturgical ceremonies and to have people appreciate the organ as an instrument. It is also an opportunity to experience the unique acoustic sound and architecture of the church.
There are many other events upcoming at the church of St. John the Evangelist. The second edition of the Bach series will be taking place in January. There will also be a professional choir festival in May.