Curtis Meyer reporter
McCray Hall’s own pipe organ got some exercise when organist Joseph Adam performed on Oct. 14.
“I thought it was really enjoyable. You know I was just blown back by finally hearing the organ played, and it’s quite an experience,” said Joseph Barnes, junior in music education.
Though the organ does get used for practice, it has been pre-covid since it was last used in a concert of this scale.
“I have actually heard it from other churches and a lot of other similar instruments, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard the McCray Hall’s organ played in full concert. They’ll play it once in a while, but this is the first time it’s ever been put on a big, long performance like this,” Barnes said.
This performance was part of the Solo and Chamber Music Series, a yearlong series of concerts by professionals from around the globe. Joseph Adam was selected as one of the premier organ players in the U.S.
Director of Music at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Adam has performed regularly with the Seattle Symphony, as well as a prize winner in several competitions such as the St. Albans International Organ Competition. Originally a piano player, Adam was drawn to the organ to play professionally.
“I’ve been playing at it for about 50 years, but seriously only for about 35. I came to it seriously after I finished master’s degree in piano. Then I became much more serious about the organ and switched instruments. I always loved the sound, the variety of sounds you can get from it. Then I got more and more interested in the repertoire, but also as I got better at playing the organ, I got more opportunities to play,” said Joseph Adam.
Adam selected a wide variety of pieces to play from Johann Sebastian Bach to Olivier Messiaen there was plenty of variety.
“I always try and choose a nice variety of pieces. I ended up with the big Franck piece because this is the bicentennial of his birth. So, it’s a Franck year and that piece doesn’t get played much. Partially cause it’s pretty long, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s serious in places but he gets playful with it,” Adam said.
The piece Adam referred to was Grand Piece Symphonique by Cesar Franck.
Adam’s favorite piece wasn’t the Franck, however, but the Bach.
“(My favorite piece was) Probably the Bach. I love that Bach. One of the things I like about it is that there’s so much variety and I like to play it especially when I know I’m going to play on a first class instrument, where I know that every single stop on the organ is going to be beautiful. So much of it is just one stop that you play at a time,” said Adam.
The next Solo and Chamber series will be held on Nov. 11, with the Arx Duo, featuring an innovative percussion duo, the Ark Duo seeks to bring people together using music. For those interested in tickets, they can be bought online or through the ticket office.