“The Monster That Never Breathes” Symphony Orchestra- Jackson
The Monster that Never Breathes
When members of Jackson’s First United Methodist Church commissioned a new organ in 1998 from the Martin Ott company, they probably never dreamed it would one day be referred to as a “monster.”
Take the term in its most loving tones, because “The Monster that Never Breathes” is the title of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra’s next concert, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 and 3 p.m. Nov. 17 at the church, 275 W. Michigan Ave., and sponsored by Kelly Fuels, Inc.
The quote, by Igor Stravinsky, describes one of the finest organs in the entire state. It was completed in 2002 and has been appreciated by church members and the community ever since.
The Symphony will feature the beautiful instrument in a variety of repertoire, including Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and St. Saëns’ Symphony #3 for Organ and Orchestra. Also joining the orchestra for its opening number will be the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church.
Few people know this instrument better than Jackie Livesay, currently Minister of Children’s Music and Organist at First United Methodist Church, as well as serving as Orff Music Director at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. She has directed the Jackson Chorale Children’s Choir for the past five years. She will perform Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ.
The piece was composed by Francis Poulenc between 1934 and 1938 and has become one of the most frequently performed pieces of the genre not written in the Baroque period. It was commissioned by Princess Edmond de Polignac in 1934 as a piece with a chamber orchestra accompaniment and an easy organ part that the princess could probably play herself. When the commission was turned down by Jean Francaix and Poulenc accepted, he decided to write something more “grandiose and ambitious.” It was also around this time that Poulenc rediscovered his Christian faith on a pilgrimage and became interested in composing religious music. This piece is scored for a solo organ, timpani and a string orchestra, so it could be performed in a small space or, using a full orchestra as accompaniment, in a large hall.
Livesay has a Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College and a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan. Both degrees are in Church Music with Organ as the principle instrument. She also earned a Master of Arts in Education degree from Spring Arbor University. She is a retired Jackson Public Schools elementary music educator and has also taught pre-school music, college classes, and private organ and piano lessons.
The other soloist is Andy Mead. He is currently on the music theory faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, but from 2002 until this past spring, he and his wife Amy shared Music Ministers duties at the Federated Church of Grass Lake. Dr. Mead is Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Michigan, where he served on the music theory faculty of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance for 30 years. He has published extensively on the music of Milton Babbitt, Arnold Schoenberg and Elliott Carter, amongst others, and has contributed to the literature on twelve-tone theory. He has worked with organist Marilyn Mason at the University of Michigan, offering with her a number of courses on the music of Olivier Messaien, Max Reger and other 20th century organ composers.
Symphony No. 3 was completed by Camille Saint Saëns in 1886 at what was the peak of his career. Also known popularly as the “Organ Symphony,” the piece is not a true symphony for organ but an orchestra symphony where two sections out of four use the pipe organ. One of the most outstanding and original features of the piece are the ingenious use of keyboard instruments: piano scored for both two and four hands at various places and an organ.
About his composition, Saint-Saëns said, “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.” His words seemed to note it would be his last attempt at writing the symphonic form, and he wrote the work almost as a type of “history” of his own career: “virtuoso piano passages, brilliant orchestral writing characteristic of the Romantic period, and the sound of a cathedral-sized pipe organ.” The symphony was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in England and the first performance was given in London in 1886.
Individual tickets are $18 for Section C, $27 for Section B and $32 for Section A. Tickets may be ordered online at the JSO’s website at www.jacksonsymphony.org, at the Box Office by phoning 517-782-3221 or in person at 215 W. Michigan Ave., Jackson.
JSO concert ticket holders are invited to attend the complimentary and highly acclaimed pre-concert lecture series hosted by Dr. Bruce Brown. Called Backstage Glimpses, this lively lecture takes place one hour prior to the concert in the FUMC chapel. R.W. Mercer Company is sponsoring this concert’s Backstage Glimpse.
For further information, contact:
Joan Cummings 517-782-3221, 517-782-3268 (Fax), firstname.lastname@example.org