BY Clint Thomas
November 9-15, 2011
At 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, Dr. Charles Chandler will begin his concert of centuries-spanning, patriotic songs on the Harrah Symphonic Organ at Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane.
The organist for Beckley Presbyterian Church, Chandler is the former Minister of Music of Forrest Burdette United Methodist and has performed previously in the PipeSounds series of concerts there.
"Two of the longest-standing traditions with PipeSounds are the Chandler Veterans Day patriotic concert and the Christmas concert," Chandler said last week. "Sunday's concert is something they started several years ago to honor the veterans. This is the first time I have done one."
"It was quite an interesting process. If they've already done six, seven or eight veterans concerts, it's hard to be unique. I tried to do something unique. I'm playing songs from the Civil War, World War I and some dance tunes from World War II. I think that's probably the widest time span that anybody has done," he said.
"One really famous song I'm doing is the 'Star-Spangled Banner' arrangement by Virgil Fox, but the general theme of the concert is honoring U.S. veterans throughout the ages.
"It was very interesting doing the research about some of the songs in the Civil War, such as The Battle Hymn of the Republic' versus 'Dixie,' and so that will be reflected musically, also," said Chandler.
The Harrah Symphonic Organ at Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church was designed by Allen Harrah, a native of Charleston's West Side and a member of the church.
According to the PipeSounds website, Harrah created the organ with 2,588 pipes and 456 draw knobs, combining traditional and digital musical equipment that employs 64 computers and approximately 150 speaker systems. The United Methodist Women of Forrest Burdette raised more than $200,000 to pay for the organ, which was first played publicly in the Forrest Burdette sanctuary in 2003. The range and versatility of the organ, Chandler said, will enhance Sunday's concert.
"This instrument is one of the largest in the world and it has some bells and whistles that you don't find on a typical instrument," Chandler explained. "This enables me to do, for example, a bugle for 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' and a fife and drum for 'Dixie.'
There's one song called 'A Soldier's Lament' - 'Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys Are Marching," and it's layed on a harmonica. I'll also use bagpipes and a dulcimer.
"When you have an instrument this size," he said, "the color palette that's available is unbelievable, so I've used a lot of instruments and tried to use some period instruments in the presentation."
Admission is free to Sunday afternoon's concert. A nursery will be provided, as well.
The 2011 PipeSounds concert season will conclude at 3 p.m. Dec. 4 with Jesse Ratcliffe performing "The Sounds of Christmas" at the church.
Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church is located at 2848 Putnam Ave. in Hurricane. For more information, call 304-562-5903 or visit the church's website, www.pipesounds.org