Friday, March 29, 2013

'A Recital of Sacred and Classical Music' of Organist Dr. Grant D. Venerable, II Includes 'Reverie' of William Grant Still

Dr. Grant D. Venerable, II on Biography, Life in Music and Organ Recital:

Grant Delbert Venerable II is native to Los Angeles, California. His father Grant D. Venerable (1904-1986), mathematician-civil engineer, was a cornetist and tenor vocalist and his mother Thelma Scott Venerable (1916-1950) was an accomplished organist and homemaker.

Young Venerable was trained on the piano by Mmes. Dovie Steward and Harriette Williamson (childhood and teen years) and introduced to the organ by William Grant Carter and Ivy Lee Beard (1960s). He attended UCLA (B.S., Chemistry) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., Physical Chemistry). He taught chemistry at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and the University of California at Santa Cruz (1970s) and worked in Silicon Valley industry (1980s) before being called to the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University to teach the history and philosophy of science from the ancient Nile Valley to modern times (1990s).

Grant Venerable was organist for Congregational-UCC churches in northern California (1980s-1990s) and concertized in his unique improvisational style accented by rich tone colorings. From 1996 until his retirement in 2011, he was a senior academic officer at Chicago State University, Morris Brown College (Atlanta), and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania (as provost and senior vice president). In Chicago he was affiliated with the First Unitarian Church and his family's Episcopal Church of St. Edmund and served on the Boards of CityQuest and Brent House, the Episcopal Chaplain's Center at The University of Chicago.

This CD may be ordered at Tel 928 526-9355 or at website or by email at

This recital entitled, “Bach, Rhythm and Soul – Celebrating the Journey with Kith and Kin,” offers a musical portrait of formative moments in my life. The prelude piece, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, was intended not only to warm up the fingers, but also to display the range of the organ's impressive tonal resources – from soft celestial strings and majestic trumpets to its brilliant full organ sound. The W.G. Still piece recalls my meeting Judith Anne Still in 7th grade and her parents William Grant and Verna Arvey Still in their LA home where Reverie was composed.

The various sacred pieces were staples of my childhood upbringing in my family's African Methodist Episcopal (AME), Presbyterian, and Baptist heritage. I learned the Boellmann Toccata during my early years of teaching chemistry at Cal Poly. I have long relied on my musical performance as a tool for keeping mental, emotional, and spiritual balance. It is how I dissipate excess levels of stress. Music affords me entry to deep inside my soul even as it lets me stand outside of myself to achieve inspiration and insight.

Preparing for the recital enabled my discovery of long-hidden aspects of my inner self, perhaps the most important being the source of my life energy as a musical artist. Even in doing science, I felt like an artist seeking unity in his creations. The October 6th recital was symbolic of the meaning of life experienced in the pieces played. Along with the sacred melodies, two pieces stand out: 1) The nearly haunting beauty of Reverie for organ by “Dean of African American composers” William Grant Still and 2) the symphonic-scale Chorale No. 3 in A Minor by Belgian-born Frenchman Cesar Franck. The whole meaning of life attached to the Still and Franck works shine like a bright star. The recital gave me a euphoric sense of completing one journey and beginning the next.

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