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Organ Barn Concert & Cookout on May 28 features Virtuoso Justin Hartz


Guilford, Vt. - Friends of Music at Guilford (FOMAG), now in its 51st Concert Season, is preparing for its 9th annual Spring Recital in the Organ Barn at Tree Frog Farm, the site of its founding event in 1966. Each season begins with an organ concert in this intimate barn on Labor Day Weekend. Over the past decade, a sort of "bookended" concert towards the end of FOMAG's season has given the organization a second opportunity to celebrate its roots. This spring's concert is at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, and is followed by an optional holiday cookout.

Located off Packer Corners Rd. in idyllic rural Guilford, the barn is home to the organization's c. 1897 Tracker Organ. One of FOMAG's founders, the late A. Graham Down (1929-2014), purchased the instrument in Maine, moved it to the barn, invested in its restoration and improvements over the years, and performed the first concerts on it, as well as a few in his final decade. In honor of organ history in Southern Vermont, guest organist Justin Hartz is bringing an Estey style JJ portable organ (1918) with him to play some selections for this program. Organ Barn audiences may recall Hartz from his virtuosic performance at the Barn in September 2009.

The May 28 program begins with two works by J.S. Bach: the chorale prelude "In dulci jubilo" and the Concerto in C Major, the latter inspired by Vivaldi's Concerto in D Major ("Grosso Mogul") for violin, strings, and basso continuo. Daniel Pinkham's Revelations for Organ follows in three movements. In a tribute to Brattleboro's Estey Organ Co. (1846-1955), Hartz will perform two chorale preludes by Johannes Brahms on the Estey portable organ: "Schmucke dich, o Liebe Seele" and "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen." The program ends with Franz Liszt's Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H. Listeners will be treated to Hartz's insights on the works played and their composers.

Justin Hartz, a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was educated at Westminster Choir College and earned his M.M. from The Juilliard School. He has been an E. Power Biggs Fellow of The Organ Historical Society, and since 1989 has been playing popular Christmas Carol sing-alongs and recitals on the 10,010 pipe Aeolian pipe organ at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. His recordings include "Hartz and Flowers," recorded at Longwood Gardens, and "Deck the Halls," recorded on the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Having a lifelong interest in historical keyboard instruments, Hartz enjoys selecting music which displays the unique characteristics of each one.
 
The post-concert cookout, held on the back deck and lawn or inside the barn if the weather is inclement, offers grilling options for carnivores and vegetarians alike and assorted salads, sides, sips, and sundaes with classic toppings; attendees are welcome to bring their preferred picnic beverage.

Tree Frog Farm is on Kopkind Dr., off Packer Corners Rd. in idyllic rural Guilford. From Brattleboro and the north, take Rt. 5 south from Exit 1 off I-91 a bit over a mile to the Guilford Country Store and follow signs for 9 mi. (mostly paved) to the Barn. Coming from Massachusetts and points south, take the Keets Brook Rd. turnoff from Rt. 5 in Bernardston, Mass. and follow signs to the Barn.

Admission to the concert is $15 per person; the meal is an additional $10 per person. Reservations are useful for food planning but not required. Contact the office at 802-254-3600 or office@fomag.org; visit online at www.fomag.org. Media support for Friends of Music at Guilford's 51st Season is provided by Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Arts Council.

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