Holy Rosary Cathedral Organ Recital Series

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Cathedral and the Pipe Organ

by Jane Penistan

Inaugural Recital: PATRICK WEDD

This recital was the first in a series of concerts of organ music at Holy Rosary Cathedral, celebrating 100 years of the cathedral and the refurbished organ. Hearing this magnificent instrument in this beautiful cathedral played by such a virtuoso musician was an indescribable experience. It would be presumptuous to attempt to criticise this recital.

The cathedral was equipped with three huge television screens which enabled the audience to view both the hands and feet of the organist while he played. This was at first distracting during the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the first piece in the programme, because there is such an enormous amount of movement of both the hands and feet of the player in this most complicated and magnificent work, but this audience member soon managed to listen only to the music and revel in it.

As the evening progressed, these screens became fascinating and instructive. After all, one rarely sees the hands and feet of the organist, and to see the dexterity of Patrick Wedd was indeed a revelation, especially in Trois Esquisses pour Pedales by Daniel Bedard.

The first half of the evening contained works of both contemporary Canadian and American composers. Daniel Bedard is a Quebec organist and Dan Locklair, composer of Rubrics, a series of pieces based on the instructions in the Episcopalian book of services, lives in South Carolina.

As Patrick Wedd said in his introduction to the piece, the music "had an American accent" . It was an interesting set of variations-- contemplative, antiphonal and exuberantly triumphant. Allegro Vivace (Symphony 5) by C.M.Widor (1844 - 1937) was, in Wedd's words, an "impressionistic work encompassing passages of great delicacy and tranquility contrasted with sonorous and romantic moods."

The second part of the evening was entitled "A Liturgical Year for the Organ". This was a series of compositions tracing the seasons of the church year from Advent to Pentecost by organists from the seventeenth to the twentieth Century, culminating in Duruffle's Choral Varie sur le theme Veni Creator. In this work, the chant was sung exquisitely by the Women's Scopla from Christ Church Cathedral.

There were no written programme notes, but Dr. Wedd provided these verbally in his charming introductions to the various works.

Holy Rosary Cathedral was full of an enthusiastic audience who welcomed Patrick Wedd back to Vancouver and greatly appreciated his presence and performance. Dr. Wedd, on his part, expressed his pleasure at being back in Vancouver and giving the first recital on the newly restored organ.