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Celebration to include cathedral organ recital

June 22, 2022

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – A familiar face will return to the cathedral organ to share his musical talents with the Diocese of Ogdensburg as it celebrates its 150th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of St. Mary’s Cathedral and the contributions of the Body of Christ, the people of the Church here in the North Country.

Donald K. Fellows served as chair of the Fine Arts Teaching Area and director of Liturgical Music at Wadhams Hall Seminary-College, and as music director of St. Mary’s Cathedral from 1993 to 1999. He will give an organ recital at 2 p.m. on July 10 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, prior to the start of the Celebration of the Body of Christ.

The perforance is one of several organ recitals planned at St. Mary’s Cathedral this year as part of its 50th anniversary celebration.

“The recital will run about 45 minutes,” Fellows said. “It will feature big, large-scale pieces of music, not stuff people would hear in a typical Sunday Mass. These are concert-style pieces that reflect a great variety of styles and eras.”

The recital will include performances of “Marche Pontificale (From Sonata I)” by Jacques Lemmens (1823-1881); “Prelude with Four Variations on ‘Adoro to Devote’” by Gerald Near (b. 1942); “Sonata I in F Minor, Op. 65 for Organ” by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy (1809-1847); Choral Prelude on “There is a Happy Land” by George Shearing (1919-2011); and “Finale from Symphony I,” by Louis Vierne (1870-1937).

“I’ll likely talk a bit about some of the pieces in addition to providing notes for the program,” Fellows said. “By pointing out certain aspects of the pieces, maybe people can enjoy them in a different way.”

The selections are intended to show a variety of the organ’s capabilities, as well as a variety of available styles and eras of music from around the world.

“I chose a variety of eras, European pieces as well as pieces from the Americas,” Fellows said. “It’s pieces I’ve amassed as part of my repertoire over the years. A couple of these pieces, I may have known when I was in Ogdensburg previously. They’re not all in the same style, but they’re pieces that fit well together. The organ is a mysterious instrument. I don’t think many people understand the ins and outs of how organs work. There’s a great variety of sounds and colors. These pieces fit together, but also display different sounds available to the cathedral organ.”

Because each organ has its own unique sound, and because the cathedral organ underwent an extensive restoration and upgrade in 2020, Fellows said he hopes to spend some time acclimating to the instrument.

“A concert pianist generally knows exactly how a piano will work and sound,” he said. “That’s not the case with organs. Each instrument is unique to its building. I presume it’ll now be different than what it was when I was there previously. I hope to have a couple of days ahead of time to get to know how it plays and the sounds it makes.”

In addition to hoping for time to get to know the restored organ, Fellows said he hopes to have time to visit friends and familiar locations around the North Country.

“When I lived up there, I had a house that overlooked the St. Lawrence River,” he said. “It’s always a pleasure to go back there. The beauty of the North Country was absolutely alluring. I’m looking forward to seeing the beauty of the river, maybe the Thousand Islands, and hopefully I’ll get over to the Adirondacks and get a little height. I also still have friends up there that I’d like to see.”

A native of Glen Cove, New York, Fellows recently retired from a position as organist and director of music for Saint Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. While in Pittsburgh, he also served on the faculty of the Department of Music of the University of Pittsburgh as an adjunct organ instructor.

In addition to his time at Wadhams Hall and St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fellows served as organist and choirmaster of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago; as director of Music of St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo; and as music director of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Dunkirk, New York.

Fellows received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from State University of New York at Fredonia, and he completed additional studies in the Cambridge Choral Institute in Cambridge, England. He has performed recitals throughout the United States, as well as in Rome, Dublin and Madrid. He has compositions published by G.I.A. Publications, MorningStar Publications and Augsburg Press.

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