South Baptist Church
Chamber (includes Solo)
6 July 2016
“This concert offers many attractions, and those who have not heard the admirable playing of Mr. Morgan should avail themselves of this opportunity.”
“This well known artist gave a concert last night . . . which was very successful. There was a very large audience present and Mr. Morgan was assisted by excellent talent. He played the overtures to Oberon, William Tell and the Midsummer’s Night Dream, Bach’s Grand Fugue in G minor, and The Huguenots. The delicious Ranz des Vaches in William Tell was rendered with soul-breathing tenderness. Mr. H. E. Browne, organist of the church, played a most brilliant fantasia on the English national anthem. The vocal part of the concert was well supported by Miss Marie Abbott and Mrs. Johnson. The aria Ernani Involami, was sung by the former in a style which many of our foreign prima donnas would essay in vain. Mr. Morgan was more fortunate in the organ last evening than at his previous concert, for this one is a noble instrument, well voiced and possessing every desirable grade of expression. In his fantasia on the Huguenots he has unaccountably left out the very best feature of the opera, namely, the ‘Vale of Rest,’ thereby giving but an incomplete outline of Meyerbeer’s grandest work.”
“Mr. George W. Morgan gave a grand organ and vocal concert . . . before a very large and appreciative audience. He was fortunate in having a fine organ to play upon, one built by the Odell Brothers, and thus favorably circumstanced, he put forth his best efforts, and was even more than usually successful. . . . This programme, with the exception of the Bach Fugue, was entirely sensational, but remarkably popular, affording Mr. Morgan ample scope for the display of his complete mastery of all the resources of the organ, his rare taste in combination, and his clear, brilliant and vigorous execution on both on [sic] manuals and pedals. He did most ample justice to the beautiful organ which is certainly the best grand organ that we have heard of Odells’ [sic] make. It contains 24 speaking stops, three in the pedals, and two effective couplers. Its voicing is excellent, some of the stops being singularly beautiful. The tone is full and bright, and is remarkable for excellent quality throughout.
A good organ and an appreciative audience inspires Mr. Morgan, and on this occasion he certainly shone out brilliantly. He was encored in his first selection, and played in response Weber’s Oberon Overture magnificently. The William Tell Overture was also encored, when he played the National Airs, in which his wonderful pedal passages surprised and delighted every one. We have rarely heard Mr. Morgan more thoroughly in the humor for playing, each piece being a master-piece of execution, and a rare example of imagination in combination, color and effect.
Mrs. Abbott sang ‘Ernani involami’ spiritedly and brilliantly, and was honored by an encore, as she was also in her simple ballad, in the second part. Mrs. J. S. Johnson is in her noviciate as a concert singer. Her voice is hardly sufficiently formed, but it has good qualities in the upper and medium registers. Mr. Koecko was more successful in his rendering of Mendelssohn’s grand aria from St. Paul—which he sang in his native tongue—than at his precocious concert attempt, but he needs many requisites to render him an efficient solo-singer.”
Mr. Morgan gave another of his many organ concerts. He also plays many a note that is not part of the composition, meaning he improvises frequently and inappropriately and uses the pedal almost constantly. Organ music here is not doing so well. Many players in churches are mediocre piano- and not organ players. However; it is not so much how the organ is played but rather what was played on it that concerns us. In Italy, operas are not just played on stage but also in churches. Here in the United States it is worse: pretty much everything is being played on organs: songs, marches, dances, potpourris, etc. Certainly we are aware of exceptions, but they are rare. A specific style for organ playing is not practiced, let alone encouraged. Musicians were fired who tried to play differently from the standard fashion.