French Organ Music Festival – unique and fantastic

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The 7th annual French Organ Music Festival at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, held this year from 2 – 5 p.m., Aug. 25, will feature six extraordinarily talented organists, a French café and a multi-visual presentation and a PowerPoint presentation about each performance to engage the audience. The suggested donation is $10.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 11th and Broadway is home to a 50-rank pipe organ built for the Cathedral by the Rufatti Brothers of Padua, Italy, and installed in 2003. The organ is one of the oldest musical instruments still in use today and written repertoire for the organ spans almost as many years as that of written music itself, its solo repertoire among the largest for any instrument.

Back in 2011, Dr. Mario Pearson, diocesan Director of Music and Liturgy, attended the annual Bachathon at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral two blocks away and thought its acoustics provided the perfect effect for Bach’s music when he had the idea of a sister event to the concert. Bachathon is always held the first Sunday in May, and Pearson envisioned a sister concert with French organ music to be held the last Sunday in August at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception—one at the beginning of summer, the other to close out summer.

It took a year of planning, researching, coordinating and nail biting, but the inaugural concert was a success. And now, with what Pearson describes as the Lucky Seventh organ concert coming up, here’s a taste of the fare on the “programme”:

MacKenzie Reed, organist, pianist, composer and performing artist, attended Ohio Wesleyan University, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Piano and Organ Performance, and earned her MFA, Performer-Composer, from the California Institute of the Arts. She said, “Organ music embodies all the colors of an orchestra,” and she loves that.

Beginning her career as a church organist when she was 16, she continues today serving as the principal organist at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Kansas City. She is a piano and organ instructor, and a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association and Mu Phi Epsilon, among others. She and her husband, composer Jason Cole, live in Kansas City.

She will open the festival with Symphony No. 5 in F minor: Il. Allegro cantabile, by Charles-Marie Vidor (1844-1937) and) Symphony No. 1 in D minor; VI. Finale by Louis Vierne (1870-1937).

Edward Poston, a graduate student working toward an MFA in Church Music and Organ at the University of Kansas, is a first-generation college graduate from Clearfield, Utah. He received his Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from Brigham Young University in 2016.

He has collaborated with university symphony orchestras and several solo artists. He is the recipient of the 2016 Power Biggs Fellowship Award and the 2018 AGOYO Scholarship Award. Currently, he serves as assistant organist at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kan.

He will play Organ Symphony No. 4 Op. 13 No. 4 by Charles-Marie Widor, including Toccata; Fugue; Andante cantabile (Dolce); Scherzo; Adagio, and Finale.

Arizona native Jacob Hofeling earned his Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from Arizona State University and his Master of Music degree in organ from the University of Kansas. He studied abroad in Bremen, Germany and is pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in organ along with a Master of Music degree in music theory at K.U. He holds positions as an adjunct professor of organ at Washburn University, Topeka, and as Director of Music at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City. Hofeling has performed as a solo recitalist at concerts in Tampa, Fla., Wichita, Lawrence and Topeka, Kan., Kansas City, Mo., and Worpswede, Germany. He has won several organ music awards, performed with the Kansas City Symphony in Dec. 2018 and performs and holds the title of staff organist at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence.

He said, “I became interested in the organ in college. I had played the piano for years and wanted to try something different. When I first played a well-built organ, I was amazed at the colors of the sound. There were almost infinite combinations of pipes, and each one sounded different. The music written for the organ is among the oldest in existence, and there is more than a lifetime’s worth of excellent music to learn and discover. 

“The French organ festival is an important part of Kansas City’s musical life. It is a refreshing chance to experience and compare the music of France throughout the centuries. Dr. Pearson does such a great job of organizing this event and is truly an event not to miss. Performing in the French festival is an amazing opportunity and I’m immensely grateful to be participating. I’m excited to share some of the most beautiful music ever written with Kansas City.”

Hofeling will play Messe “Cum Jubilo” op. 11, by Maurice Durufle (1902-86)

Sister Mary of Holy Hope, SOLT, has as her motto, “Praise Him with strings and pipes,” from Psalm 150. After she professed vows as a religious sister, she was assigned to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity convent in Kansas City, and has served at Our Lady’s Montessori School in Kansas City, Kan., as a preschool teaching assistant and music teacher for six years. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Church Music at the University of Kansas, studying the organ. She also serves at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church as an organist and cantor.

She has chosen “Suite du Troisieme Ton” by Jean Adam Guilan (1680-1739), including Plein Jeu, Quatuor, Dialogue de Voix Humaine, Basse de Trumpette, Duo Grand Jeu (a Magnificat), and the Sonate pour orgue no. 1en mineur op. 42 by Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911), including II, Pastorale: Andante quasi Allegretto, and III, Final: Allegro assai.

Kansas City native Andrew Morris began studying piano at the Community Academy of the Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC, and in 2009, began studying organ. His debut organ recital was in 2010 at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence. Today he is a student at the University of Kansas, pursuing a master’s degree in Organ Performance. He has performed at competitions in Kaliningrad, Russia, Montreal, Canada and St. Albans, England. He serves as the organist for the Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City.

He has selected the Toccata, Op. 9 by composer Jean Guillou and Douze Pieces, “Lied” and “Final” by Gaston Litaize.

French Organ Music Festival perennial performer Dr. Jan Kraybill, began playing the organ in the First Presbyterian Church in Colby, Kan. “I had been taking piano lessons since I was 3 years old and had frequently played piano in school and church. When I was 14, our church organist, Velma Lippoldt, offered to give me organ lessons. I soon fell in love with the variety of sounds possible on the pipe organ and the sheer power of all of those voices combined together.”

While still in high school, Kraybill was invited to play her first European piano recital in Andover, England. She holds degrees in music education, piano and organ performance and attained the AGO’s Fellow certificate, an organist’s highest certification. She has performed both as a soloist and as a collaborative artist in many venues in North America, Australia, Europe, Russia, South Korea, and Tahiti. She has appeared on conventions of The American Guild of Organists (AGO) the Hymn Society, the American Choral Directors Association and others, and on several broadcasts. Several solo and collaborative recordings are available, including her most recent solo, The Orchestral Organ, released in May by Reference Recordings. She is the Organ Conservator at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Organist in Residence at the Community of Christ Temple headquarters and organist at Village on Antioch Presbyterian Church.

She has selected Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light) by Theodore Dubois (1837 -1924) from Douze Pieces Nouvelles pour Grand Orgue; Choral-Improvisation on Victimae Paschali Laudes (Praise to the Paschal Victim by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), and Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Francois Gounod (1818-93) transcribes by W. T. Best.

Kraybill encourages people to attend the Festival, saying, “The French Organ Music Festival is a unique opportunity to hear multiple organists playing a variety of great pieces from the rich French tradition of organ playing and composition. When you add the incredible visual and acoustical beauty of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the effect is astounding. I am grateful to Festival founder and designer Mario Pearson for inviting me again to close the Festival, and I always attend the entire afternoon, because it is just such a treat for ears, eyes, and spirit!”

And, as always, Reste comme tu veux, pars quand il te faut!

Stay as you wish … leave as you must!

For more information, call the Cathedral, (816) 842-0416 or visit


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November 01, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph