He wowed us in April, and I expect that he’ll repeat in August. That’s my prediction for James Kennerley’s concluding performance in the Aug. 28 finale of the Port City Organ Expo.
“Kennerley, who was appointed Portland’s official municipal organist – one of only two such positions in the U.S. – gave a stunning performance at his public debut on the mighty Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, a 7,101-pipe behemoth that was installed in Portland City Hall in 1912.
Among Kennerley’s many sterling qualities is the gift of composition and a flair for showmanship. Both of these were evident in April, when he gave his debut performance. I expect that both will be seen in maximum force on Tuesday, when he wraps up the four-concert Port City Organ Expo, an annual August production of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, the nonprofit support group that raises funds to maintain the massive musical machine and underwrites public performances.
Kennerley will be supported by a consort of brass musicians, mostly members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, known as the Kotzschmar Festival Brass.
“An American in Paris” is the title of the program, and it features French compositions and one major piece about France in the 1920s. Nearly all of these have been arranged for the Kotzschmar by Kennerley. Selections include excerpts from Claude Debussy’s piano works, such as his “Suite Bergamasque” and “Children’s Corner.”
Kennerley will conclude his performance with “An American in Paris,” originally conceived as an orchestral tour de force by George Gershwin. It famously imitates the hustle and bustle of street sounds of Paris, and I expect that Kennerley will pull all the stops on the Kotzschmar’s “toy box” division to pull that off.
Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ present “An American in Paris” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.”
-Scott Andrews, The Forecaster, August 21, 2018