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On the Town: Noon concert series gets ‘organ’ized for new year

On the Town: Noon concert series gets ‘organ’ized for new year
Arthur Omura was organ soloist at the first Glendale Noon Concert of the year at the Glendale City Church. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

For the past 10 years, the Glendale Noon Concert series has attracted a loyal audience of repeat listeners.

Now entering its 11th year of free-admission performances at noon on the first and third Wednesdays, the first concert of the new year was kicked off in style.

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Last Wednesday, the rafters rang as the organ at the Glendale City Church was played by a pro.

Arthur Omura, organist and harpsichordist, presented a French baroque chamber-organ recital.

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He began with “Prelude sur chacun ton” by 16th-century composer P. Attaingnant. He also played selections from French composers Couperin, Gigault, Robertday, Caurroy and Titelouze.

About his choice in music, Omura has some strong opinions.

Glendale Noon Concert Series curator Jacqueline Suzuki poses with Dave Ferguson, concert committee coordinator at the Glendale City Church.
Glendale Noon Concert Series curator Jacqueline Suzuki poses with Dave Ferguson, concert committee coordinator at the Glendale City Church. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

“If you are like me, you are sick of the Chipmunk Song ‘Christmas Don’t Be Late.’ So this year, to save you from tears, I’ve put together a musical palate cleanser — a diet of early Baroque and late Renaissance music from France,” he said.

Omura’s audience of some 100 music lovers loved it.

“I’m taking an anti-stress break,” said Burbank resident Susan Gallant at the concert.

Michael Perlowin, a pedal-steel guitarist, said, “I come all the time. I live in the neighborhood. These concerts are a treasure, a real pleasure of life.”

Dave Ferguson was master of ceremonies for the afternoon’s half-hour concert.

Ferguson, a 20-year member of the Glendale City Church, is coordinator of the church’s concert committee.

He also organizes a monthly “Second Saturday Series,” which are free concerts at 5 p.m. at the church.

Also, Ferguson is responsible for the musical education of children from low-income families. For five years, he has worked with 8- to 10-year-olds in an after-school program at Cerritos Elementary School in Glendale.

Liza Boubari, president and founder of HealWithin International, will begin a new round of after school classes to holistically help motherless children.
Liza Boubari, president and founder of HealWithin International, will begin a new round of after school classes to holistically help motherless children. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

There have been 90 instruments donated for the program to give the children their choice of flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, viola or cello.

Ferguson played the accordion as a child. So that the kids don’t show him up, he is now learning how to play the cello.

Ferguson’s youth orchestra of about 30 Cerritos students has played at the Glendale City Church for two Christmas concerts and also at last year’s “Taste of Glendale” event.

The orchestra is called Caesura. “It means ‘take a break’ — a musical term. I wanted to give the kids a break from their other challenges,” Ferguson said.

His involvement with the noon concert series began after a chance meeting with violinist Jacqueline Suzuki, who is now curator of the series.

They met at a consortium made up of various churches in the Los Angeles area.

Suzuki began the noon concerts so that Los Angeles freelance musicians would have a venue where they could perform chamber music.

“I’m amazed that the concerts have attracted such a loyal audience of regulars,” Suzuki said. “The series has also created a roster of musicians who have performed regularly through the years. I, myself, have been grateful to have a regular venue where I can perform.”

Marianne Jennings is with Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine at the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild's 2018 Book and Author Luncheon.
Marianne Jennings is with Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine at the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild's 2018 Book and Author Luncheon. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

After the concert, the serious Omura let down his hair to this reporter.

“This organ is nifty,” he said.

Omura, who lives in Albany, Calif., described a little about his musical background.

“I began playing the organ at 12 years old,” he said.

But it was learning how to play the piano at 5 years old that nearly did him in.

“I don’t want to practice,” he said he would tell his mother.

Her answer: “Practice anyway.”

The next noon concert will be on Jan. 17. The program will include piano sonatas from composer Scriabin, played by pianist Brandan White.

Ruth Sowby Rands may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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