January 26, 2011
Three "Con" men will be pulling out "all the stops" in concert at a Hurricane church on Sunday, Feb. 6.
Their self-referential "Con" title alludes to the fact that all three scheduled performers are Concord University graduates. Concord alumni Elliott Bromley of Richmond, Va.; Dr. Charles Chandler and Timothy H. Waugh of Princeton will perform on the Harrah symphonic organ at the PipeSounds concert at 3 p.m. Feb. 6 at Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church.
"It's the world's largest six-manual, draw-knob console organ," explained Chandler, who is also the minister of music at Forrest Burdette UMC. "We have certainly enjoyed playing it and hosting concerts here. The concert series is governed by a board of directors who loves organ music. We've had world-renowned artists come play concerts here; we have about four of them a year.
"I pitched two ideas to them: One was to have some local organists play and the other was to allow me and some of my friends to play."
As well as being a Concord graduate, Chandler graduated from Marshall University and Nova Southeastern University and studied French Horn at Radford University. He is a former band director and public school administrator, having served as superintendent of schools in districts in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Along with his service at Forrest Burdette United Methodist, Chandler has led music programs at Presbyterian church in Princeton, Pittsburgh and Finleyville, Pa. He served as organist of First United Methodist of Buckhannon and conference organist for the West Virginia United Methodist Church in 2007.
A Richmond native, Bromley graduated from Concord in 1984. While at the Athens institution, he participated in several ensembles, accompanied numerous recitals and played piano for the Concord Commanders.
After graduation, Bromley taught band and music at Bramwell in Mercer County and music theory/composition at the West Virginia Governor's Honors Academy. He spent several summers as musical director and accompanist for Theatre West Virginia.
Bromley has remained active as a recitalist, playing concerts at venues including West Virginia University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond.
He is the organist at Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond, where he also teaches piano, organ and harpsichord at the church's School of the Arts.
Waugh is retired from directing choral, musical theater and handbell activities at Pikeview High School in Princeton, working in the public school system for more than three decades. Currently, he is a conductor, composer and clinician for many handbell conferences and festivals throughout the United States.
For 32 years, Waugh served several Protestant, Catholic and Jewish congregations as pastoral musician, providing direction for choral, handbell and children's music. He also has served as musical director for Theatre West Virginia, best known for its outdoor performances of "Honey in the Rock" and "The Hatfields and McCoys" at Grandview State Park near Beckley.
Waugh is the artist-in-residence at Beckley Presbyterian Church.
A 1972 South Charleston High School graduate, Waugh received his bachelor's degree in Music Education in organ from Concord, minoring in voice and woodwinds.
During a telephone interview while he was traveling between Las Vegas and Southern California for performances last week, Waugh said the upcoming Forrest Burdette concert is "sort of a brainchild of Dr. Chandler. There are quite a few organists in West Virginia and surrounding areas, all of whom went to Concord. Many of us attained us degrees in organ.
"Charlie gave me a call and said he had this out-of-the-box idea to do this concert together. We're thinking about doing the same program in Richmond and definitely in Beckley. It was a reunion type of thing, to do this and have fun," he said.
He added that the afternoon concert will have light-hearted moments interspersed with more reflective organ compositions.
"The concert is designed as sort of a Valentine's Day concert," said Waugh. "The things we are going to do are centered, potentially, in a lot of latter literature. We'll be doing some serious things, but also the fun side of organ music. We're going to be pulling from different arrangements and sources to give an overview of the more romantic side of the organ.
"The final program isn't absolutely set in stone, but I know that I'm doing a fugue. Guy Bovet did an arrangement that used a fugal theme to 'The Theme from The Pink Panther'; I'll be doing that one.
"Some other things under consideration are selections from Disney, the musical theater, Broadway shows, along with some of the more serious things. It'll be a complete organ concert," said Waugh.
The concert will also be Waugh's first on the Harrah symphonic organ, he said.
"I have seen the instrument," he said, "but not played that particular organ. I play the organ at Beckley Presbyterian Church. There are certain things about organs, like cars, for example, that are alike; all cars have steering wheels, all organs have keyboards. The organ I play at Beckley Presbyterian Church is a Tracker organ. It's comparable to something J.S. Bach would have played, with completely mechanical action and no electronic parts involved.
"The Harrah organ is the complete opposite of that. It has major amounts of electronics, using 21st century technology that would be available today," said Waugh.
The Harrah symphonic organ at Forrest Burdette UMC was designed and created by Allen Harrah, a native of Charleston's West Side and member of the church.
According to the PipeSounds website, Harrah fashioned the gargantuan organ with of 2,588 pipes and 456 draw knobs, combining traditional and digital musical equipment (using 64 computers and nearly 150 speaker systems). The United Methodist Women of Forrest Burdette reportedly raised more than $200,000 to pay for the organ. It debuted in the Forrest Burdette sanctuary in 2003.
Admission is free for the community concert on Feb. 6.
The United Methodist Women will host a reception afterward.
Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church is located at 2848 Putnam Ave. in Hurricane.
Putnam County Bank is sponsoring the afternoon organ concert.
For additional information, visit www.pipesounds.org/, view the PipeSounds fan page on Facebook or call 304-562-5903.