December 2016
November 12 Workshop on Creative Hymn Playing and Adapting Piano Accompaniments for the Organ


Chris Urban, Andrea Handley, Sharon Peterson, Jill Hunt

Saturday, November 12, 2016, four presenters cooperated on two workshops: “Creative Hymn Playing & Adapting Piano Music for the Organ.” This event, hosted by Chris Urban and First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, IL, was taught by Organists Andrea Handley, Chris Urban, Jill Hunt, and Sharon R. Peterson.

In the first session Andrea and Chris each addressed Creative Hymn Playing from their own perspectives.  Andrea creates her own modulations and enhanced harmonizations, so she demonstrated various templates she uses for introductions, alternate harmonizations, pedal lines, and modulations between verses.  It was particularly helpful that she included printed Finale examples of all these techniques.

Chris Urban gave an overview of many printed collections of Introductions, Free Harmonizations, Modulations, Piano/Organ Duets, music for Organ & Brass, and music for Organ and various instruments. His demonstrations as well as comprehensive list of resources is a wonderful tool the chapter appreciates and will use frequently as well.

Jill Hunt shared her research on the R. Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, using the piano score, (the original composition,) J. Melvin Butler’s organ accompaniment, and the full orchestral score to inform her organ accompaniment. She explained how she compiled her part to show what Vaughan Williams intended, using what the organ can offer to best advantage.

Sharon R. Peterson gave a demonstration of the possibilities the organ offers to enhance an anthem written for choir and piano. She invited the attendees to sing to enable them to first feel how the organ supported them. Then she analyzed what she’d played – emphasizing the importance of listening and thinking as a Conductor while making decisions about the adaptation from piano to organ.

This rich presentation inspired the attendees to take these resources to heart to enhance their playing. The workshop provided the perfect follow-up to the previous month’s astounding concert presented by Notre Dame Cathedral’s Organist, Vincent Dubois.

Although attendance was decent, given four people presented, (and three of them are on the NSAGO board) members should make a renewed effort to attend these valuable educational events.  The Board will make the distributed resources available to our chapter members in some way. Please look for details in upcoming Overtones.

Sharon Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

Posted in Reviews of Past NSAGO-Events.