First Presbyterian Church: Lincoln, NE.

Organist Han puts on a good show, despite faulty organ

By John Cutler, Lincoln Journal Star

Had it not been for some quick electronic sleuthing, organist Ahreum Han might have had to cancel her Lincoln Organ Showcase-Arts for the Soul concert on the large Reuter organ at First Presbyterian Church Sunday.

The instrument died during the church’s morning worship. Solder jockeys found the problem and jerry-rigged wires so the organ was usable. But the concert host warned the 150 patrons to be prepared, the organ could die at just about any moment.

Han was aware of the problem.

The Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy “Sonata IV in B-flat Major” was approached like a Baroque work, and a confident Han completed it with flourish and well-chosen organ stops.

Likewise the lovely “Chanson de Matin” of Sir Edward Elgar received careful attention to expression.

Then came the transcription of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Oberon” overture.

Things were building well, the work proceeding to a galloping pace, loud pipes blasting, when it happened.

The organ shut down. The silence was deafening.

Han, unfettered, pushed the right combination stop button and continued. The curtain of sound reappeared and the work finished without a further hitch.

Some organ “fun” came with Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s “Valse Mignonne” and Guy Bovet’s “Hamburg Totentanz.” Han showed her versatility in utilizing the organ’s digital MIDI-interface to achieve unique sounds.

The long and arduous Franz Liszt “Fantasia and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” filled the second part of the concert. Here, Han put to rest any doubts about her keyboard and footwork techniques.

She granted a heroic rendering of Liszt’s showpiece, even when those pesky wires got crossed up again.

By concert’s end, all had gone well for the young Curtis Institute grad. The house praised her recovery from the organ’s problems.

The repair crew is supposed to come fix it Monday.