Come Creator Spirit: Fedak Plays Fedak at Westmins[CD]
~ Alfred Fedak V.
The well-known composer Alfred V. Fedak finally has a definitive recording of a dozen of his organ compositions, recorded by Fedak May 15-16, 2008 on the historic E.M. Skinner organ (opus 780, 1929) in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, N.Y. You will want to own it both for the great music included and to listen to this wonderful instrument. Fedak's effectively utilizes the entire 52 ranks on the organ, and the quality recording by engineer Ed Kelly gives you every nuance. Alfred V. Fedak, noted organist and composer, is Minister of Music and the Arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York, having held previous church positions in New Jersey and Michigan. He is active in the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and in the American Guild of Organists, having served from 1995-2000 as Director of the National Certification Committee. To date he has published nearly 100 individual compositions including anthems, mass settings, vocal solos, and organ music. He has also composed over 80 hymn tunes which appear in various collections and denominational hymnals, including 'The Alfred V. Fedak Hymnary,' published in 1990; and 'Sing to the Lord No Threadbare Song: New Hymntunes of Alfred V. Fedak,' published in 2001, and 'God of the Future,' published in 2008. Fedak was born July 4, 1953 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He earned B.A. and B.M. degrees from Hope College, and an M.A. from Montclair State University. A Fellow of the American Guild of Organists he also holds the Guild's Choirmaster Certificate. He is the recipient of numerous prizes in organ performance and composition, including the A.G.O.'s S. Lewis Elmer Award for national high score on Guild exams. History of the Organ Ernest M. Skinner (1866-1960) is considered by many to be the finest pipe-organ builder America has ever produced. His instruments are prized for their rich tonal beauty and exquisite workmanship. In 1929 Skinner installed his Opus 780, a four-manual instrument of 42 ranks, in Westminster Church after a fire the previous year had destroyed the church's roof and interior, including it's original 1863 Johnson organ. The Skinner organ served Westminster Church until 1976, when it was replaced by an electronic organ, due to the church's inability at the time to fund some much-needed repairs. Fortunately the Skinner was not lost, but was moved to the nearby residence of church members Dr. Thomas and Anne Older, who preserved it by installing the Skinner in their home while keeping it tonally intact. When the church's electronic instrument began to fail in the late 1990s, the Olders donated the Skinner back to the church, more than 20 years after it had been removed. In 2000, Westminster engaged Austin Organs, Inc., of Hartford, Conn., to refurbish and re-install the Skinner in it's original chancel location, with the work being completed in May of 2003. The Chancel organ's 1929 stoplist was largely retained, the most significant alterations being a new 4-rank Mixture and 8' Trumpet added to the Great. In addition, a 2' Piccolo replaces a 4' Unda Maris on the Choir, and a new Solo Cor Anglais and Swell Vox Humana (the latter from the old Echo Organ) were added to the Chancel stoplist. The original console was retained and rebuilt, placed on a moveable platform, and fitted with a computerized multiplex switching system and multi-level combination action. The instrument's most striking visual feature is it's Austin 10-rank Antiphonal division situated in the rear gallery. With it's casework designed by the noted British organ architect and author Stephen Bicknell, this division was added to the organ during the 2003 re-installation to support congregational hymn-singing. The organ now encompasses 52 ranks of pipes distributed over it's six divisions. It is tuned and maintained by the L.A. Carlson Company of East Greenbush, N.Y. Since it's return to the church, Skinner's Opus 780 has quickly achieved wide recognition throughout the organ world. Shortly after it's first dedicatory recital, performed by John Weaver (then organist at Manhattan's Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and head of the organ departments at both the Juilliard School and Curtis Institute), the organ was prominently featured during the 2003 Region II Convention of the American Guild of Organists in a recital given by David Hill, Director of Music at St. John's College, Cambridge, England. The organ was also showcased by the Organ Historical Society during it's 50th Annieversary National Convention in June of 2006. Thomas Murray, Organ Professor at Yale University, performed a recital on the organ during that convention. In describing the event The Diapason praised it as 'a great recital on a great organ!' And not long afterwards, MWHT-FM declared the organ's restoration to be a 'Great Moment in Classical Music.' Westminster Church is a Presbyterian congregation (PCUSA) organized in 1919, the product of the merger of three earlier Albany churches: Second Presbyterian, Third Presbyterian, and State Street Presbyterian, whose 1862 building the present congregation now occupies.
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