Weil Sawyer at St. James' Episcopal Church, October 27, 2005

       Organist Weil Sawyer is currently a graduate student of Ken Cowan at Westminster Choir College, having completed his undergraduate study at North Carolina School of the Arts as a student of Dr. John Mitchener. He was a finalist in the National American Guild of Organists' (AGO) competition in Los Angeles in 2004, and was presented by the Jackson Chapter of the AGO.

       Sawyer began his program with the well known Praeludium, Fugue and Ciacona in C Major, by Dietrich Buxtehude, and capably met all the challenges of this sectional piece, making it unified and integrated. The Ciacona was particularly well played with energy and excitement. The next piece was "Adoro Te Devote", Prelude with Four Variations, by Gerald Near. A nice contrast in style and character to the Buxtehude, the variations were well suited to the text of the chant. The formidable Scherzo, Op. 2, by Maurice Durufle was done playfully and with freedom, and the many technical demands of the piece were handled skillfully by Sawyer. J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in F Major (BWV540) followed. The toccata was well played, and it was a treat to hear the fugue, which is often omitted. After the boisterous toccata the fugue casts an entirely different mood. It is stately and of a more mature nature, a very nice contrast. Sawyer then presented the Sonata I in F Major, Op. 65, by Felix Mendelssohn. Each of the four movements was played with special attention to registration and musical contrast, and the final movement, a toccata, was played with brilliance. Another good program choice followed with the Cantabile by Cesar Franck, providing a contrast to the Mendelssohn. The recital was brought to a rousing conclusion with Symphony No. 1, Op. 14: Final, by Louis Vierne. Sawyer lifted the audience to a pinnacle of excitement with his masterful presentation of the piece. We all look forward to hearing Weil Sawyer in the future as he becomes a noted concert artist.

- Billy Trotter