October 22, 2007
JELANI EDDINGTON & CHRIS GORSUCH GIVE WORLD’S FIRST THEATRE ORGAN PERFORMANCES OF GRIEG PIANO CONCERTO
On October 14 and again on October 21, 2007 Jelani Eddington and Chris Gorusch gave the first-ever live performances of Grieg’s complete Piano Concerto in A minor (Op. 16) on theatre organ and piano.
In February of 2007, Jelani Eddington released the first-ever recording of Grieg’s complete piano concerto recorded on theatre pipe organ and piano. (This recording is available on the album The Mighty Wurlitzer). This endeavor required Jelani to pour over the orchestral score measure by measure and create a reduction of the full orchestral score that would be playable by a single musician at the console of a theatre pipe organ. Chris Gorsuch offered invaluable assistance during this project, so it was only natural that the two musicians would join forces for the first live performances of this work.
For these concerts, Jelani played the solo piano parts and Chris performed the orchestral score on the organ. The first performance took place on October 14, 2007 for the Blackwood Theatre Organ Society in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The concert, held on the 3-manual 20-rank Kimball-Wurlitzer in the residence of Ben Robertson and Don Fink, was part of an annual charity fundraiser to support scholarships for young Pittsburgh-area musicians.
This concert was, in every sense of the word, a blockbuster. After an initial solo performance by Jelani including Johnny One Note and an extensive medley from West Side Story, Chris joined Jelani on center stage to perform Grieg’s concerto. To add to the realism of the orchestration, a percussionist from a local university joined the duo and provided the indispensable timpani parts. The close studio setting of the music room helped to give the performance an intimacy that is rare in a performance of this magnitude. Following a dinner break, the duo returned to center stage to perform a few more solo and duet arrangements, concluding with Gershwin’s immortal Rhapsody In Blue.
Just one week later, the duo repeated this blockbuster performance at the 4/24 Wurlitzer at Trinity Presbyterian Church in La Mesa (San Diego), California. This concert was also a fundraiser to honor the legacy and memory of Jackie Porter — a long-time supporter of the Theatre Organ Society of San Diego.
For this performance, the Eddington-Gorsuch duo joined forces with percussionist Russ Peck (who is also a talented theatre organist in his own right). Once again, these musicians played several solo numbers and duet arrangements, including a jazzy rendition of Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree and a soulful Anyone Can Whistle written by Stephen Sondheim.
The musicans capped off the first half of the concert with Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, only to return in the second half to perform–for the second time in theatre organ history–Grieg’s complete Piano Concerto In A Minor. The concert was an immense success, and judging from the repeated standing ovations the musicians received, the audience was thrilled by the performance.
Plans are already in the works to repeat these performances in the not-too-distant future.