Skinner organSubmitted photo

The first event leading up to the 100th anniversary of EM Skinner’s OPUS 327 pipe organ will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman  Ave. Featuring St. Luke’s former Organist and Choirmaster, Karel Paukert, this benefit concert is for the OPUS 327 Centennial Organ Fund.

Mr. Paukert is dedicating the program to the memory of the late Right Reverend Thomas Ray, former rector of St. Luke’s, and his wife, Brenda.

Mr. Paukert, known internationally for his interpretations of Messiaen and improvisation, is no stranger to Skinner’s EM OPUS 327 pipe organ.  He is the former Organist and Choir Master of St. Luke’s Church, where he led the Royal Church of School Music, St. Luke’s Choir, for services.

He also founded Bach Week in Evanston at  St. Luke’s in 1974, combining the choir with professional instrumentalists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera Orchestra and Northwestern. He also introduced the tradition of Lessons and Carols for Advent. 

The program will feature “La Nativite du Seigneur” (“The Birth of Our Lord”), composed by twentieth-century French organist Olivier Messiaen in 1935. The piece consists of nine movements that are both pictorial and theological, each describing some moment or vision of the events of the Nativity.

The movements are titled The Virgin and the Child, The Shepherds, Eternal Purposes, The Word, God’s Children, The Angels, Jesus Accepts Sorrow and The Wise Men.  God among Us, by contrast, is a concluding toccata, a flood of sound, which summarizes the entire set.

The music expresses ideas and emotions that go beyond words, allowing, as Messiaen himself said, “the heart to overflow freely.” Because of his Messiaen’s  unique music personality, the pieces can also be appreciated as pure music, apart from their religious significance.

Tickets and additional information are available at www.opus327.org.