Covenant-First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cincinnati is inaugurating its first annual organ festival in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, March 3 and 4 at the Elm Street church.
The church will host a free recital at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, with renowned organist Andrew Henderson. A public master class will follow on March 4.
Currently director of music and organist at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, Dr. Henderson is chair of the organ department at the Manhattan School of Music and organ instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also the associate organist at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El, one of the world’s largest Jewish houses of worship.
The native of Thorold, Ontario, received degrees from Cambridge, Yale University and Juilliard.
“Andrew Henderson is an acclaimed organist who works as a performer, teacher, conductor, and musician of churches and synagogues in many of Manhattan’s most distinguished venues. His diverse program will highlight the color, depth and power of the organ at Covenant-First Presbyterian Church,” said Michael Unger, professor of organ and harpsichord at CCM. “He is an engaging, dynamic and thoughtful musician.”
Henderson will perform on the church’s historic, century-old Austin Pipe Organ. Built by the Austin Organ Co. of Hartford, Connecticut and installed in 1915, it was considered one of the largest organs in this part of the country, with 51 stops and more than 3,100 pipes.
His program –music of J.S. Bach, Bruhns, Sowerby and Mulet — includes works by composers with connections to his current post at New York’s Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.
On Monday, 10 a.m. to noon, March 4, Henderson will lead a masterclass/workshop that will showcase the talents of CCM students in Unger’s studio. The event will focus on topics for church musicians.
Both events are free and open to the public at Covenant-First Presbyterian Church, 717 Elm Street, downtown.
The church will also sponsor a dinner at Moerlein Lager House for Dr. Henderson, Dr. Unger and CCM organ students.
The Austin Pipe Organ was given by Mrs. W. W. Seely in memory of her husband, Dr. William Wallace Seely. Following a fire in April, 1960, the organ was completely restored by Charles D. and James Hildreth and has since been updated and renovated in 1974, 1999, and 2000.
For more information, visit covfirstchurch.org; 513-621-4144.