On Sunday, April 15, 2018, St. Dunstan’s Episcocal Church in Carmel Valley presented the second of its 2018 Organ Concert Series. As mentioned before, the new pipe organ built by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Iowa, was designed for this small sanctuary only three years ago. The Church and its Rector Rob Fisher are eager to have concerts regularly so that audiences can hear this beautiful instrument.
Today we heard Alfred Yoon and Melissa Whang. Mr. Yoon, a senior at Albany High School is already an accomplished artist. In the fall he will begin engineering studies at Princeton University. After a wine and cheese pre-reception, Mr. Yoon introduced himself, telling us in an unassuming way how he came to play the organ only four years ago. His dream had been to become an airline pilot, but because of weak eyes he found that this was out of the question. Since the complicated front view of an organ with its many stops kind of looks like an airline cockpit, he thought, and he already had considerably developed piano skills, he decided to give it a try. He added another interesting detail. Mr. Yoon participated in a summer workshop at the Post Graduate Naval School in Monterey in 2017 and asked the church if he might practice on their instrument. What a fortunate coincidence for both.
The one-hour concert, called “One Organ/Five Composers” started with Sonata Op. 65, No.4 by Felix Mendelssohn, with the assistance of page turning by Melissa Whang. This lively work revealed instantly that Yoon is already a highly finished artist. Next he performed Little Preludes and Intermezzo Op. 9 by Hermann Schroeder, a 20th century German composer. Here Mr. Yoon fully exploited both manuals, which with the pedals produced a rich variety of pleasing sounds.
Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio for Organ and Violin, composed 300 years earlier, was probably the most familiar sounding piece on the program. Here Ms. Whang, a Juilliard graduate, played very beautifully the melody on violin while the organ accompanied her. This piece is most commonly orchestrated for string ensemble and organ and is a beloved concert work. The audience thanked the duo with sustained applause.
Next followed a Trio Sonata No.1, BWV 525, by Johann Sebastian Bach. This work is from a set of six sonatas Bach composed for his eldest son Friedemann to develop the technique and skill needed to become a good organist. I presume this needed the most professional playing by Mr. Yoon; he seemed to produce the two voices on the manuals and one on the pedal like a mature master.
The final work was by Leon Boellmann, a French composer and organist who lived only to the age of 35. This most entertaining, four-movement work is called “Gothic Suite, Op. 25,” and was composed in 1895. Its Toccata movement reminded me of movie-house organ playing from the era of silent films. After a lively standing ovation, I heard Mr. Yoon’s teacher who was seated in the last row tell a listener, “Alfred is a joy to teach.” What a nice compliment.
St. Dunstan’s announced in the printed program that on Friday, June 15, at 6 pm, we can look forward to hearing a return engagement by the splendid organist, Angela Kraft Cross. We look forward to it with pleasure.