Review: Minnesota Orchestra performs first concert on Northrop Auditorium’s restored organ

Posted on: October 17, 2018

“Seven years ago, the Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Northrop auditorium was taken apart and put in storage on the University of Minnesota campus,” writes Terry Blain in Monday’s (10/15) Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul). “On Friday evening at Northrop, the organ breathed again, thanks to a $3.2 million restoration…. The retooled organ was the centerpiece of a Minnesota Orchestra concert led by music director Osmo Vänskä…. In John Harbison’s ‘What Do We Make of Bach?’ a new work co-commissioned by Northrop, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony, the organ’s voice emerged with vernal freshness and a tingling clarity of texture…. Paul Jacobs displayed sparkling fingers in the cadential passages but kept his most dazzling work for the Bach fugue that he played solo as an encore….. After intermission … university organist Dean Billmeyer took on the solo duties for Saint-Saëns’ mighty Organ Symphony…. Billmeyer conjured a magically lyrical account of the symphony’s slow movement [and] in the exuberant finale [powered] the music to a resplendently full-throated conclusion…. Some of the organ’s deep pedal notes did not possess the floor-juddering vibration they might have had in a more resonant arena. But that’s a smallish price to pay for the instrument’s newfound immediacy of impact.”

Posted October 17, 2018