What do a huge organ built in 1935 by a European organ master, a theremin, a dance troupe, a silent movie, a cat duet and something called a ROLI Seaboard all have in common?
Odd as it hopefully all sounds, the answer is fairly simple. All will be part of the upcoming Pipe Screams event set for 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Second Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth.
While Pipe Screams was held a few times in the 1990s, this will be the second annual revival of the event, said Stan Workman, musical director at Second Presbyterian.
Workman said the concert is a chance for people to hear music they normally would not hear in a church (and it might be safe to say, anywhere else) but also to experience the power of Second Presbyterian’s unique organ. In addition to the local Bone and Fiddle Dance Project and some choral help courtesy of students from Shawnee State University (where Workman is a professor as well as the newly named artistic director of the Riffe Center for the Arts,) the concert will feature four primary performers including Workman himself.
Workman will take to the console of the historic Second Presbyterian organ along with Southern Ohio Medical Center physician Jeremiah Martin and two Portsmouth natives, one of whom Workman described as a highly noted organist and the other currently studying music and organ performance at Oberlin College and seemingly on track to becoming a highly noted organist himself.
A physician by trade, Martin is an accomplished musician who put on a well-attended solo performance benefiting repair work on the Second Presbyterian organ over the summer. Workman said he “twisted the arm” of organist Douglas Leightenheimer, now living in Tucson, AZ. to take part in Pipe Screams. Oberlin College student Matt Bickett began his studies in high school under Workman’s tutelage. He recently returned from an extended trip studying organs and music in Europe and has performed previously at Second Presbyterian and SSU.
Some of the selections to be performed that evening include, among other pieces, music from Gilbert and Sullivan, the “Phantom of the Opera” and the “Danse Macabre,” also known as the “Dance of Death.” Workman promised the tone of the evening will be appropriate for the Halloween season.
For his contribution, Bickett will perform the sound effects for an eight-minute silent movie, the subject matter of which Workman said is a “funny face contest.”
Some other performers will include mother and daughter duo Julie and Jackie Hines who will perform the so-called “cat duet.”
“There’s one line, ‘meow,’” Workman said.
In case you are still wondering, a theremin is an electronic instrument controlled without physical contact and named after the Americanized version of the name of its Russian inventor, Leon Theremin. It might be best known as the instrument used to produce the uniquely toned theme song of the original “Star Trek” TV show. A ROLI Seaboard might be best described as a high-tech keyboard capable of producing many different, unique sounds, according to a Wikipedia entry.
Not incidentally, the entire Pipe Screams affair is to be hosted by Vincent Priceless, who sometimes takes on the persona of local optometrist Michael Raies.
Workman said last year’s Pipe Screams event attracted about 170 people, which he said is a pretty respectable number for a church concert, even a slightly off-the-wall church concert. He is hoping for perhaps double that number this year.
Pipe Screams is open to the public and free, though donations will be accepted and are encouraged. Any dollars raised will go towards restoration and rehabilitation of the Second Presbyterian organ.