A celebration of the 100th birthday of the Moller organ at the Middlebourne United Methodist Church will feature three accomplished musicians in concert at 2 p.m., June 3.
Organists Matt Jennings and Bruce Ensinger and pianist Jillann Westbrook will present the 60- to 75-minute performance of solo and duet musical pieces featuring a mixture of classical works, spiritual hymns, congregational hymns, and responsive readings.
Jennings, the MUMC organist and music teacher at Arthur I. Boreman Elementary, was the 2011 West Virginia General Music Teacher of the Year. He played an active part in the renovation of the church organ after a generous donation from the Paul E. Jemison family was received for the music ministry.
From left, Matt Jennings, Bruce Ensinger, and Jillann Westbrook will be the featured organists/pianist for a recital set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Middlebourne United Methodist Church. The recital is a celebration of the church’s 100-year-old Moller organ.
Ensinger has taught music in the Wetzel County school system for 35 years, and is organist for the Sistersville First Presbyterian Church. He is an accompanist for state honor choirs and is a founding member of ArtsLink, Inc., the Wetzel-Tyler arts council.
Westbrook, one of the MUMC pianists, will play the Yamaha baby grand piano which was purchased with a portion of the funds donated by the Jemison family. A gifted musician and vocalist, Westbrook plays piano for the Tyler Consolidated High School choirs and also works with Jennings at Boreman Elementary as accompanist for the school choir.
"It's remarkable that we have a 100-year-old working organ, especially at a time when many churches are struggling," said Jennings. "The organ doesn't stylistically suit people today, so obtaining funding and finding organists to play the instruments can be difficult. This recital is a celebration of the instrument and its heritage, as well as the people who have made this possible. It's commendable that members of the church 100 years ago had it installed and that it has continued to be maintained throughout the last century."
Church records indicate the woodwork for the organ was made in Hagerstown, Md. The organ itself was manufactured by the Moller Organ Co., and is identified as Opus No. 1402. It's believed to have been part of Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic mission to provide organs for churches throughout the world. In a history of Carnegie and his accomplishments, it was reported that the industry giant "wanted to be responsible for the influence of music in a church," and decided that could best be done through the donation of pipe organs.
"Carnegie loved the organ because it sounded like an orchestra," explained Ensinger. "Organ music is based on air and fills the space. It's the closest instrument we have to replicating the human voice. The organ truly is the king of all instruments."
Recent renovations to the organ have been completed by the Bunn-Minnick Pipe Organ company in Columbus, Ohio. Approximately $35,000 has been spent to date for repairs, with the next phase expected to include the renovation of the two windchest reservoirs.
Among the selections to be played by Ensinger will be "Cornet Voluntary" by William Walond; "Swiss Noel, with Variations," by Louis Claude Daquin; "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" by John Ness Beck; and "Echo Fantasie" by Gerhardus Scronx.
Pieces to be featured by Jennings will include "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus," as arranged by Roger C. Wilson; "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," as arranged by Robert J. Hughes; and the "Trumpet Tune" by Henry Purcell.
"Arrival of the Queen of Shema" by George F. Handel will be played as an organ duet by Ensinger and Jennings. "Adnate Tranquillo" from the "Water Music" by G.F. Handel will feature Jennings and Westbrook on the organ and piano, as well as "Canon in D" by Johann Pachelbel.
A goodwill offering will be collected during the recital for the Adams House Ministries. The Middlebourne United Methodist Women will host a light reception for the audience and musicians immediately following the conclusion of the performance.