Bob McDonald, science journalist and host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, looks on as Jenny Vincent performs during the first concert of the OrganWorx series on Sunday, Sept. 24. — Submitted by Paul Vincent

Cosmic Odyssey has lift-off

Cosmic it was — at Knox in Parksville.

On Sunday afternoon, September 24, the first concert of the newly formed OrganWorx series was an invigorating blast from beginning to end. The program was hosted/narrated by Bob McDonald, science journalist guru and host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, and wrapped up with the musical talents of Jenny Vincent, Organist. Throughout the program, visuals on two screens added a sense of reality for the sold-out crowd.

From the opening 2001, A Space Odyssey (Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, arr. Hans Georg Pfluger), aided by the video of a rocket-launch on the screens, there was lift-off that propelled the audience to the moon, throughout the Solar System, to inter-galactic regions and the depths of outer space beyond.

Ms. Vincent’s playing was beautifully sensitive with expertly honed dynamics that supported images ranging from the blood-red planet Mars, the mighty and toxic Jupiter and the floating nebulae of Orion and the Ring. The growing expansions of the Universe were amplified magnificently with the use of nearly all the 39 stops on the organ, leaving the audience audibly in awe.

McDonald’s entertaining and informative skills captured the audience from start to finish. “Our galaxy,” he explained, “is so big that it would take 100 million years to go from one side to the other!’ He added a thought-provoking quote from Carl Sagan, “We are the Universe’s way of knowing about itself.” The visuals projected on two screens – photos and video clips of historic galactic explorations – brilliantly supported the emotion-packed music for this program.

Cosmic Odyssey ended with the most appropriate encore possible – Space Oddity (Ground Control to Major Tom), composed/recorded by David Bowie and later, memorably sung/recorded by Chris Hadfield in a transmission from the International Space Station. Two comments overheard following the show summed up the afternoon clearly – “Amazing!” “It was a unique experience!”

The OrganWorx continues with two remaining concert dates — Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, 2 p.m. (Organ and Harp, with Janelle Nadeau, harpist) and Sunday, May 27, 2018, 2 p.m. (Choir & Organ, with the Schooner Cove Singers; Elroy Friesen, Conductor). Subscriptions for the two remaining concerts ($50) and tickets for individual performances ($30) can be purchased at Mulberry Bush Book Stores (Parksville and Qualicum Beach) and at Knox.

— Submitted by Mary Leigh-Warden

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