BENNINGTON -- Organ music by Bach and Mendelssohn, among other great composers, will fill the historic First Congregational Church of Bennington (the "Old First Church") in Bennington, on Sunday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m., as organists Charles Olegar and Scott Smedinghoff are featured in a "Musick and Song at the Old First Church" series event, open to all without charge (free-will donations gratefully accepted).
The April 28 musicale is the second installment in Old First’s recently launched community outreach series of free organ and instrumental recitals, along with other special music offerings, such as this past month’s two programs of Bach cantatas and Good Friday and Easter music. Long noted for its outstanding beauty as a widely renowned example of Colonial architecture, the Old First Church also possesses exceptionally fine acoustics, providing an ideal venue for classical music.
Organist Scott Smedinghoff, Olegar’s immediate predecessor at both Old First and First Baptist churches, while currently pursuing doctoral studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N. H., has been maintaining his Bennington ties through regular appearances at Old First as an organist and choral singer. Most recently he was featured at Old First Church as organist with sopranos Kerry Ryer-Parke and Karen Swann, along with cellist Nathaniel Parke, in a Good Friday performance of music by French Baroque composer François Couperin.
"Scott’s presence on this program should prove of that much greater interest, in that he represents an approach to Bach playing very different from my own, which should make for a quite stimulating contrast," Olegar said. "Bach’s printed scores indicate simply pitches and rhythms, with no interpretative guidelines such as became typical a century later, so there can be considerable differences in approach, with responsibility for creating musically convincing performances lying with the performer."
Musical selections for the April 28 recital include Bach’s "Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C" and "Prelude and Fugue in D Major," along with two chorale settings: the F Major "Toccata" of Bach predecessor Dietrich Buxtehude; and Felix Mendelssohn’s "Second Organ Sonata." Donations will be directed toward funding improvements to Old First’s 45-year-old pipe organ, along with operational costs of the church’s new "Musick and Song" series.
The Old First Church is located at 60 Monument Ave. (intersection of Monument Avenue and Vermont Route 9) in Old Bennington.