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Musical journey to Paris

Organist to play at Notre Dame

Organist to play at Notre Dame

April 13, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

For showbiz performers, playing The Palace in New York was always equated with hitting the big time.

For church organists, "the big time" would have to be the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Just ask Mark King, organist at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown, who is scheduled to perform there in late spring.

"I got an e-mail last June from Jean-Pierre Leguay inviting me to play. He wanted to know if I would be interested," King said with a smile.

After thinking about it for two seconds, King e-mailed him back that he would be delighted. Leguay is one of three organists at the landmark Catholic cathedral in Paris.

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Back and forth correspondence firmed up the plans, which include a rather unusual practice schedule that King must work around.

"Notre Dame is a big tourist attraction during the day so my practice time is limited," King said. "I have been given six hours to practice - two sessions from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. each."

Situated on land with water on several sides, Notre Dame really doesn't have any "neighbors" so King doubts that anyone will be hearing him play at those hours.

"The organ at Notre Dame has five keyboards while St. John's has three," King said. So he said he will need that practice time.

Minister of music at St. John's for 13 years, King is a native of Pittsburgh. His undergraduate degree in music education and organ performance was earned at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

After receiving his master's in organ performance at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, King headedto Atlanta, where he held a similar post at the church there while also teaching.

On April 20, King, soprano Judy Myers and baritone David McKinley will perform a recital at 7:30 p.m. at St. John's.

The works of Dieterich Buxtehude, Jean Langlais, George Shearing and Charles-Marie Widor will be included.

"I teach private organ lessons at Shepherd University," King said. He has worked in music most of his life, either chorally or piano and organ.

King believes his invitation to play at Notre Dame came via his reputation in performing. "My work is known," he said. "Right after I came to Hagerstown, I was invited to play at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C."

He has performed at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York, St. Paul's Cathedral in England and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris.

"I also studied one summer at the Royal School of Church Music in England," King said. "It was a wonderful opportunity to also study the roots of the Episcopal Church."

While King's church in Hagerstown celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2006, he's visited many churches in Europe that date back to the 12th century.

In 1992, King performed at the national convention of the American Guild of Organists and this summer he will be playing the organ at the AGO region convention in Baltimore.

King said he will be accompanied by friends from Hagerstown, New York and Atlanta when he goes to Paris.

"I hope to do some traveling while I'm there," King said. Plans are already in place to gather in Paris after the recital for a dinner and a boat ride on the Seine when both the city and the cathedral are all lit up.

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