There are about twenty-five volunteer organists on the staff of the landmark Community of Christ World Headquarters in Independence, Missouri. They, guest organists, and Principal Organist Jan Kraybill play the every day programs that alternate between The Auditorium's Aeolian-Skinner 1959 organ and The Temple's Casavant Op. 3700 during summer months and each Sunday during the rest of the year. They also play the daily Prayer for Peace, graduations, and special events in both venues. Seven of them combined their talents on September 8, 2013, for a fine celebration of twenty years of great music from the Casavant Opus 3700 organ, installed twenty years ago. The repertoire Sunday's musician's chose honored the history of music from these organs, intentional worship, and the pursuit of peace. Some works fulfilled all three purposes.
A staff organist since 1969, Dale Rider chose two works that he remembered from Bethel Knoche's playing them on, "The Auditorium Organ," the radio program originating from the Aeolian-Skinner organ in The Auditorium, and which ran for twenty-six years on hundreds of stations around the world. The first was "Fanfare" by Healey Willan (1880-1968): A festive processional featuring a variety of trumpets in an extended presentation tune. The second was Benedictus by Alec Rowley (1892-1958) subtitled, "I bring calm; I bring comfort and ease." A somber, peaceful piece, it had a reassuring duty for Mr. Rider as he entered graduate school at Wittenburg University in Ohio.
Barbara Adler, a two year staff member, played, BWV 671, Kyrie! Gott, heiliger Geist, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) a chromatic, contrapuntal chorale fantasy with the key hymn phrase: "And when at last we die, let us leave this Vale of Sorrows with joy." In the finale, the chromaticism gives way to a joyful major chord, espressing the sense of acceptance of this promise.
Dr. Blake West, a thirty-three year staff organist, selected Andante Sostenuto from Symphonie Gothique by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). It was Widor's ninth organ symphony, but, as Dr. West noted, he eschewed using the number in deference to Ludwig van Beethoven's nine symphonies to which he did not want to equate his own; he named this symphony for the stately gothic cathedral to which it was dedicated, saying it was, "a special kind of music, music of the eternal...." Soft, undulating winds provided a background for the flute melodies.
Jeff King, in his fifteenth year as a staff organist, chose the antiphonal, Cortege et Litanies, of Marcel Dupré (1886-1971) which represents a processional set of prayers between the people and the priest or a cantor. Dupré uses a sometimes sinister dance melody for a continuous, lush, crescendo to the concluding section that Mr. King describes as: "a joyful pealing of bells."
Staff organist and choral acccompanist, Terry Foster, played, BWV 547, Prelude and Fugue in C Major of Johann Sebastian Bach, the earliest Bach music he heard as a beginning organ student at age fifteen. The bass melody in the pedals was decorated by contrapuntal melodies in the manuals building to the end of the prelude, starting again at the fugue, and building to a resolute conclusion.
Pam Robison, another veteran from 1969, and soon to retire, picked up on the comfort of Christian unity in, "The Peace may be exchanged," by Dan Locklair(b. 1949). Composed to accompany the solemn exchange of sacred encouragement prior to celebrating Jesus' sacrificial death, the music repetitively depicts what sounds like a slow drip in a puddle, followed by the resulting expanding wake, a metaphor for spreading of peace starting with a single act.
Jan Van Otterloo, a staff organist since 2007, also chose a work by Johann Sebastian Bach, Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 572, "because it sounds so fabulous on the Temple organ!" Melodic at the first, Bach quickly goes into imitative treble weavings, with an elongated melody in the pedals.
Jan Kraybill, Principal Organist at Community of Christ and Conservator of the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri played one of her favorite pieces, the virtuosic, Allegro from Symphony #6 by Charles-Marie Widor. Beginning with rapid, accented chords, Widor launches into a sprint to the end, sometimes with a fast melody, other times a slower melody decorated by a fog of unbelievably fast notes, all put in their proper place, and understated as needed. At the conclusion of the movement, the listener realizes that he can, once again join Dr. Kraybill, breathing..