Sound of Music


About 20 local elders and backpack-toting students filter into Graham Taylor Hall. They turn their wooden seats away from the chancel and toward the back door. Most chat in hushed tones with their neighbors. Suddenly, a voice from above booms, “Good afternoon.” All heads tilt heavenward. A goateed man wearing jeans greets the crowd and then disappears. The music begins.

Welcome to organist Thomas Wikman’s weekly recital, sponsored by the Chicago Theological Seminary. Throughout his 30-minute performance listeners stay quiet. Many close their eyes. There is little movement, aside from one young man turning book pages and an older fellow wiping his brow with a handkerchief.

Wikman pauses part way through this afternoon’s four Bach selections to
serve up some extemporaneous program notes, although, he concedes after the free concert, he has “a very knowledgeable crowd.”

The Reverend David Neff of Chicago’s Morgan Park Presbyterian Church is a longtime fan. “The organ was beautiful,” Neff says. “‘St. Anne’ fugue in E flat—oh my, it takes you through so many movements.”

Wikman enjoys playing the seminary’s baroque organ, hand-built in 1983, doing so on-and-off for the past two decades, with stints in Europe in between. This season’s final concert is March 12.


February 27, 2004