In Portland music circles, this is a week of significant milestones.
James Kennerley performs his first concert as Portland’s municipal organist…He makes his debut as municipal organist with a Kotzschmar Organ concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. He’s the city’s 11th municipal organist, and the successor to Ray Cornils. He grew up in England and lives in New York City.
Kennerley’s job is to perform concerts that demonstrate the organ’s capacity and wonder, while engaging Kotzschmar loyalists and bringing new admirers to the organ. We get the first glimpse of his musical strategy on Wednesday night.
The [Kotzschmar] organ is incredible,” he said. “I’ve heard it in recordings for years, and I’ve heard it in person, but I hadn’t played it until my audition,” he said. “It’s like getting to know someone you’ve never really met, but they’re going to become your best friend, and you’re going to know everything about them pretty soon. My time in rehearsal so far has really been spent playing around with the sounds, finding all the qualities and quirks and acoustics of the room and really just building a relationship with my fingers and ears and getting to know the instrument. … The challenge of being an organist, especially (with) a massive and complicated organ like the Kotzschmar, is to work out its charm. You do that by experimenting, listening and trying new things you would never normally would do.”
-Bob Keyes, Portland Press Herald, April 10, 2018