by Kevin McLaughlin
The sound of an organ in orchestral settings is always an aural thrill. A cornucopia of colors and sonorities on its own, the organ, when mixed with strings, winds, brass, and percussion, more than doubles the pleasure and the fun.
In his welcoming remarks, music director Christopher Wilkins drew attention to the evening’s sonic star and focus — a digital impersonator of sounds, painstakingly prepared by Robert Mollard to sound just like a pipe organ. Putting out fullness and variety, if not always the seismic events associated with cathedral organs, Mollard nevertheless created excitement and beauty in his appearance with the Akron Symphony at E.J. Thomas Hall on Saturday, October 21.
Since the first official work on the program, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s Worship: A Concert Overture, takes as its basis the hymn tune Old 100th (“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”), two bonuses were in store to orient us. Principal flute Barbara O’Brien played the unadorned tune in gorgeous, silvery tones, and Mollard let loose with Robert Hebble’s Toccata on Old Hundredth, a festival of organ prowess.