Portland’s new municipal organist ready to break barriers

“The trick,” James Kennerley said, “is to break down the barriers that make some people think organ music is for elites or organ music is boring.”

In taking up his duties, [James] Kennerley said, “We need to make (the Kotzschmar) accessible and enjoyable to as many people as we possibly can through imaginative concerts, education and outreach, performer collaborations and commissioning new works.”

Organ playing is “a living, breathing art form,” he added. “We have a unique opportunity in Portland to build a community focused around the magnificent Kotzschmar organ and I’m convinced that fantastic things will happen. I can’t wait to get started.”

Kennerley made his first visit to Maine in the fall of 2015 and said he and his wife “absolutely fell in love with the city and the surrounding area,” which is one reason he was interested in becoming Portland’s newest municipal organist.

The rarity of the post was also a draw, he said.

“It’s (also) a unique opportunity to perform on a world-class musical instrument, truly one of the finest pipe organs in the world,” Kennerley said, “and produce concerts for a wide, appreciative audience.”

Kate Irish Collins, The Forecaster, October 3, 2017