The second annual French Organ Music Festival, sponsored by The Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Guild of Organist and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception got off to a grand start with Dr. Mario Pearson (Director of Music for the cathedral) playing the organ for the Cathedral Schola Cantorum to present the Kyrie from Messe Solennelle, Op. 16, by Louis Vierne (1870 – 1937). There was ascending of specific voices at times, but a good ensemble blend was the typical sound.
More complete cohesion was displayed in the wandering tonality of Pierre Villette's ( 1926 – 1998) unaccompanied Hymne à la Vierge (hymn to the virgin) which was conducted by Dr. Pearson. There was a group expression, very soft to controlled loud, without strained sound.
Dr. Pearson gave the cathedral's Ruffatti pipe organ a major workout with Apparition de l'église éternelle (apparition of the eternal church) by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) created when the composer was only 24. The strong, dissonant, somber, chords displayed Messiaen's immersion in the new sounds of the new century. Mario presented an apt interpretation of this work, which, if given a hint to the meaning, an audience could see its own vision of the church amid trials.
K.U. organ and church music grad, and second year grad student in Notre Dame's Master of Sacred Music degree program played - Hymne d'Action de Grâce, 'Te Deum' by Jean Langlais (1907 – 1991) "Impromptu," from Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 3, Op. 54, and "Toccata," from Pièces de Fantaisie, Suite No. 2, Op. 53, both by Vierne. Mr. Mourlam has progressed beyond any expectation from the Miege High School student who volunteered to play masses at St Agnes in Roeland Park, which seems like only a few weeks ago. His touch and tempi were sure, his understanding of the music as exemplified in his performance was keen, and his communication of this mature music to an audience made up of many musicians was superlative.