BY TOM LAVIS
A new concert series will feature one of the region’s best organ recitalists playing one of the area’s oldest pipe organs in an inaugural program that begins tonight at the Grand Halle in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
The initial program at 7:30 will feature Juilliard and Carnegie Mellon-trained organist Bryan Lohr of Stoystown.
The first concert in the music series, titled “Reintroducing Adam Stein,” will present the history and qualities of the Halle’s acclaimed 112-year-old pipe organ, which was handcrafted in 1900 by the Adam Stein Organ Works.
Lohr will demonstrate the organ’s distinctive features, then play a selection of compositions that will highlight the instrument’s tone and qualities.
“We are excited to have Bryan Lohr participating in this inaugural program,” said Kim Rauch in a news release.
Rauch, who is directing the performance series for the Steeples Project, said the organ is in excellent playing condition.
“The acoustics of the Halle are tailor-made for this instrument,” Rauch said.
“In Bryan’s hands, we will hear the Adam Stein organ at its best.”
Lohr holds degrees from Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University, where he was the first – and still is the only – organist to receive the highly selective artist diploma.
He has performed across the United States in some of the nation’s most-prominent organ recital series.
Locally, he has performed with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of the Alleghenies.
He is director of music at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset, serves on the board of directors for the United Church of Christ Musicians National Network and accompanies North Star School District and Johnstown’s Rodoljub choral groups.
Each concert of the Grand Halle Performance Series will take place on the first Friday of each month through April.
The former Immaculate Conception, along with the former SS. Casimir & Emerich and the former St. Columba, were purchased by a nonprofit corporation, 1901 Church Inc., after the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese merged five Cambria City parishes into Resurrection Parish in July 2009. The nonprofit group launched The Steeples Project to raise money and develop reuses for all three buildings.
“Along with saving these monuments to our immigrant heritage, one of our main goals is to find uses for these beautiful buildings that add to our area’s quality of life,” said Teresa Marafino, president of 1901 Church Inc.
“This music series demonstrates how a former house of worship can become a community asset.”
While the performance series calendar still is being finalized, plans include two holiday-themed music events in December, Orthodox and Eastern European music in January, and other special themes in February, March and April.
The series also will showcase other musical instruments and a variety of musical genres.
Who: Organist Bryan Lohr.
What: “Reintroducing Adam Stein” concert.
Where: The Grand Halle, 306 Broad St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
When: 7:30 tonight.
Tickets: At the door.
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for preschoolers.
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