Organ Concert this Friday

Organ Concert Oct. 18 at St. Peter’s Church, Salisbury

SALISBURY, MD—One of the nation’s most highly regarded organists performs the dedication concert for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s new hybrid organ on Friday, October 18, at 7 p.m., following downtown Salisbury’s Third Friday celebration.

John Walker has had a distinguished career as a concert organist, teacher and recording artist.

As a soloist, he has performed with such notables as the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, and the New York Philharmonic, recording Gustav Holst’s The Planets. His performance schedule has taken him throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and St. Paul’s in London.

A New York Times review praised his technical command and another reviewer for the Kansas City Star wrote, “Anyone harboring notions of organ recitals as dull … obviously hasn’t heard John Walker.”

Reflecting his first and continued love of sacred music (playing for worship services remains his most satisfying of performances, he said) his St. Peter’s program includes prominent pieces by Bach such as his “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,”  popular hymns such as “Amazing Grace” by Rober Hebble, and “Marche Réligieuse on a Theme of Handel” by Alexandre Guilmant, among others.

His recording career includes both choral and featured organ works.  Pipedreams, nationally syndicated on public radio, has often broadcast his performances and in 2006 dedicated an entire program to him titled, “Walker on the Wild Side.”

After finishing two master’s degrees from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Walker earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from Stanford University. He has taught at several campuses and conservatories and was chair of the Organ Department at the Manhattan School of Music before becoming professor of organ performance at Baltimore’s renowned Peabody Institute.  While in New York he was director of music and organist at the famed Riverside Church. As a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan, he gave a series of benefit concerts to raise money for disaster relief as well as a memorial service for victims, following devastating earthquakes there in 1999.

The hybrid organ he will play in Salisbury combines the church’s 1970 26-rank M.P. Moller pipes with a modern Rodgers Trillium T958 console and electronics. “The acoustics in St. Peter’s historic building are conducive to the ambience of the classic sounds of the organ,” added Bruce Horner, the church’s director of music.

A reception follows the concert.  Admission is free, with a free will offering taken to defray expenses.

A longtime fellow of the American Guild of Organists, Walker serves as its vice president. During his Eastern Shore visit, he will present two workshops for members of the Southern Delaware and Salisbury chapters of the guild, beginning 10 a.m. Saturday, Octobert 19, at the church.

For additional information, call St. Peter’s at 410-742-5118.