Thursday, December 12, 2013 Trent Johnson plays 'Hallelujah Chorus' 'as one of the organists who perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular'

Trent Johnson

Trent Johnson writes:

Hello Mr. Zick,
I thought that you might find this article about organists and playing Handel's Messiah on the pipe organ interesting. 


Organists pull out all the stops for Handel's 'Messiah'

By Ronni Reich/The Star-Ledger

Dec. 8, 2013

For organists, December means stepping out of the choir loft and into the spotlight.
“Most people, when they think of a pipe organ, they think of an organ played in church,” says organist Trent Johnson.
“It can be a concert instrument as well, and there’s much literature written for the instrument that is fantastic and expressive and energetic. This season offers opportunities to use the instrument in very interesting and colorful ways.”
One of the most prominent opportunities is Handel’s “Messiah,” the classical standby of the season.
Originally written for orchestra, choir and soloists, the work may feature organists as the accompanimental continuo line, a role otherwise taken by harpsichord or piano. Or the organist may be responsible for recreating the full score single-handedly — well, with two hands and two feet, technically.

Johnson has played the oratorio at least 20 times, sometimes three performances in a season. These days, he isn’t playing the full work, but gives its popular “Hallelujah Chorus” a nod as one of the organists who perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
He is also the director of music for Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bernardsville and music director of the Oratorio Singers and Orchestra of Westfield.
In the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Johnson plays the “Mighty Wurlitzer,” the largest organ the company has ever made — and there are two of them that play duets while spaced the equivalent of a city block apart.
He has been in the job for four years, where he has traded sacred works for the likes of “Frosty the Snowman,” “White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride.” He plays preludes and postludes (that’s where “Hallelujah!” comes in), as well as in the main show, during which the instrument is featured to highlight moments of drama, especially using its lower register, and to enrich the musical ensemble.

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