BY TOM LAVIS
Robert J. Lacovic was in high school when he became mesmerized by the pipe organ at the former Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
He later became the church’s organist and has had an affinity for the stately 112-year-old pipe organ, which was handcrafted in 1900 by the Adam Stein Organ Works.
Lacovic and his wife Linda will be the featured artists for the second installment in what formally is called the Grand Halle Performance Series.
The program will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Grand Halle on Broad Street.
Robert Lacovic, who served as organist and choirmaster at the former church for 11 years prior to the 1977 Johnstown Flood, said he is pleased that the organ has endured.
“It has survived two fires and a flood,” Lacovic said. “The church had 6 feet of water in the sanctuary, and, thankfully, the organ is located in the balcony.”
But the floodwater took its toll.
“The moisture from the flood did a lot of damage, but Michael Filo, organ custodian and technician, fought to retain the authentic sound,” Lacovic said.
The holiday performance is titled “Anticipation and Celebration.”
Kim Rauch, music program director, said the concert will mark the holiday season with music carefully selected to guide the listener from the ancient and mysterious tone of Advent through the joy and celebration of Christmas.
“Bob Lacovic will create a very special atmosphere that conveys the mystery and majesty of the coming Christ Child,” Rauch said.
“In the second half of the program, soprano Linda Lacovic will share the joy of the Christmas season through familiar songs and carols.”
Rauch said the program promises to be an evening of inspiring and joyful music by the Lacovics.
“The first part of the recital will scan a stunning body of organ literature,” Robert Lacovic said. “It spans 10 centuries, much of which, sadly, has been cast aside for all things Christmas.”
To open the recital, Lacovic will play “The Emperor’s Fanfare” by Spanish composer Antonio Soler.
“We are planning a grand entrance and a grand exit for our audience,” Lacovic said.
The performance also will feature the often mystical-sounding music composed for the season of Advent.
“It will be a progression of traditional themes associated with Advent,” he said. “We will dim the lights and concentrate on the themes of awesome wonder, longing hope and joyful anticipation that prepare the devout for the celebration of Christmas.”
After intermission, Lacovic will accompany his wife in a selection of holiday music.
Linda Lacovic said the second half will begin with her singing a few lullabies that focus on what went on at the manger.
Her solos will include “The Coventry Carol,” “How Far is it to Bethlehem,” “The Holy Boy,” “Lullaby” and “I Know Now.”
“It’s a reflection of what Mary would be hearing on the night of his birth,” she said. “We will have a blend of popular and sacred music.”
She said it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she may implore audience members to take part in the singing of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
“We will see if people are really into it and see if we have the participation level of those attending to determine if we can do it,” she said.
This will be followed by a program of familiar holiday sing-alongs, including, “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow,” to name a few.
Each concert of the Grand Halle Performance Series will take place on the first Friday of each month through April.
The series also will showcase a variety of musical instruments and musical genres.
The recital is sponsored by Friends of The Steeples Project, which will sponsor a door prize and chance off baskets.
If you go ...
Who: Robert and Linda Lacovic.
What: “Anticipation and Celebration.”
Where: The Grand Halle on Broad Street, 306 Broad St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Tickets: At the door.
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for preschoolers.
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