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Annual Organ Concert

Broad Bay’s 11th Annual Organ Concert to feature Sean Fleming on Waldoboro’s 1875 Organ

Sean Fleming returns to Waldoboro for Broad Bay Congregational United Church of Christ’s 11th annual organ concert at 7 pm, Friday, September 9. The concert features Opus #793, Waldoboro’s 1875 Historic Hook and Hastings Organ.  

Sean Fleming is renowned for his work as organist, pianist, accompanist and music director throughout the United States.  He serves as music director for the Young at Heart group, and accompanies Bowdoin Chorus, Lincoln Festival Chorus, Midcoast Community Chorus, St. Cecilia Chamber Choir, Sheepscot Chorus.  He regularly works with Downeast Singers and Tapestry Singers. He has worked with the Ann Arbor Camerata, Bowdoin College Chamber Choir, Bowdoin Summer Music Festival Chorus, Oratorio Chorale, University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and the University of Southern Maine Chorale and Chamber Singers.  Sean has performed as accompanist in recitals at Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Round Top Center for the Arts, University of Southern Maine, University of Michigan School of Music and many other venues.  He serves as organist at St. Andrew’s, Newcastle.  

So begins the second decade of Broad Bay Church annual organ concerts.  This is Sean’s second performance at the annual concert and he is among the ranks of other skilled organists who have celebrated Opus #793.  Kevin Birch from Bangor has performed five times, including the first three concerts starting in 2006, followed by mid coast organists Leticia vanVuuren, Jay Zoller, and Carroll Smith.

Nancy Duncan, Broad Bay Church Pastor, said this at the 2006 concert, “This organ is a remarkable part of our community’s history. It was hand built in Boston 131 years ago and transported to Waldoboro, probably by ship. Over the decades this organ has comforted the tearful, brought hope to the hopeless, and expressed the joys of three distinct communities of faith: the Congregational Church which disbanded in the early 20th century, the First Baptist Church, and now Broad Bay.  In the future, I hope organ concerts at Broad Bay will be frequent and varied, and will provide a place where people of all faiths and no faith may come together to be moved and inspired by the power of music.”  That has been and continues to be the Broad Bay Church commitment.  Over the last ten years the Broad Bay congregation and the Waldoboro community have provided substantial encouragement and financial support to restore and maintain Opus #793 to its original beauty.  The restoration was done under the direction of David E. Wallace & Co. 

We are proud to begin our second decade of annual concerts that bring us together “to be moved and inspired by the power of music.” 

In order to make this concert available to all in our community regardless of economic means, there is no charge. Donations are gratefully accepted. 

Program Notes

Prelude and Fugue in Eb Major (St. Anne), BWV 552 - Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach’s Clavier Übung (literally, “keyboard practice”), in which his E-flat Prelude and Fugue form bookends, is a set of works that transcends that humble title. 

The Prelude has three thematic and stylistic sections, and some liken the sections to aspects of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The “Father” theme employs the dotted-eighth note to sixteenth-note rhythm of the French Overture of Bach’s day, while the “Son” theme is more playful and simple. The “Holy Ghost” theme consists of a sinuous 16th-note melody that divides into two different alternating lines. These sections then intermingle, but maintain their distinct characters.

The Fugue is a magnificent work, whose appellation “St. Anne” comes from the fugue’s resemblance to an English hymn tune by William Croft - a tune Bach may have heard used in one of Handel’s Chandos anthems: O praise the Lord with one consent. It shows us Bach playing with the number three: there are three flats in the key signature, there are three sections, and the piece is a triple fugue (a fugue based on three subjects). Bach was both mathematically inclined and a devout believer; it may be that the number three was his way of evoking the Trinity.

Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 65 - Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn was commissioned in 1844 to write a ‘set of voluntaries’ by the English publishers Coventry and Hollier. Mendelssohn wrote six sonatas for that commission, of which the Sonata No. 3 was the third in the series. In the beginning of the third sonata, Mendelssohn uses music that he originally wrote for his sister Fanny’s wedding. The movement's second section is in A minor; listen to the pedals to hear the chorale tune Aus tiefer Not. “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” translates as ­”From the deep I cry out to thee.” The third section continues in minor with the Aus tiefer Not chorale continuing in the pedals, with the chorale tune transforming into a triumphant pedal line. This exuberant pedal line takes us back to A major, with music that is similar to the music from the beginning of the piece

Paraphrase sur un Choeur de Judas Maccabée de Haendel - Alexandre Guilmant

For his Paraphrase, Guilmant used the theme from a chorus in the third part of Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus - “See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes!” 

Guilmant begins with a complete statement of Handel’s theme, which is followed by a fugal treatment of part of the theme. After a modulatory transitional section, the full theme returns triumphantly.

Prelude on St. Columba - Charles Villiers Stanford

The Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford wrote a substantial number of orchestral works and was very active as an opera composer. His list of pupils ranks high on the list of illustrious British composers of the 20th century, including Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, Frank Bridge, Arthur Bliss, and Herbert Howells.

Among Stanford’s wide variety of compositions, the ones most frequently performed are the ones composed for liturgical use. Today I will play one of those, a prelude on the well-known Irish hymn tune St. Columba, given its familiar “The King of love” setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams in the 1906 English Hymnal.

Concert Variations on The Star Spangle Banner - John Knowles Paine

John Knowles Paine was born in Falmouth, Maine and was a Harvard faculty member. The Concert Variations on the Austrian Hymn, includes a statement of the theme, and then four variations. The first variation includes the theme played by the right hand, with a eighth- and sixteenth-note motive played by the left hand and feet. The second variations has the melody played by the left hand, with fast sixteenth notes played by the right hand and pedals. A much softer third variation has both hands on one manual. Paine loved to show off the feet in his variations, and the fourth variation carries on that tradition with groups of six sixteenth notes played on the pedals, with emphatic chords played by the hands. The fourth variation leads directly to a fugue, with the theme played on full organ at the end.