Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 13, 2013

A native finale

Christ Church music series ending on local note

By Sonya Vartabedian
svartabedian@andovertownsman.com

---- — Andover’s own Susanna Valleau has returned home from Washington state to cap off Christ Church’s inaugural 2012-2013 organ concert series this weekend.

The series finale is especially meaningful since Christ Church is where Valleau developed her love for the organ.

She will take to the keys of the church’s relatively new organ — built by C.B. Fisk, Inc. of Gloucester — for a solo recital on Saturday, June 15, at 7 p.m. at the 33 Central St. church.

Valleau, the daughter of Reed and Louise Valleau, began studying piano at age 7, not long after she moved from Newton to Andover with her family.

As a 17-year-old, she was drawn to the organ after Barbara Bruns came on as minister of music at Christ Church and she started taking lessons.

The 2006 graduate of Andover High School went on to earn her bachelor of music in organ performance at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and completed her master’s in organ performance at the University of Washington this past December.

In 2011, Valleau won both the chapter and regional levels of the American Guild of Organists Regional Competition for Young Organists (Region VIII) and performed as a “Rising Star” at the 2012 AGO National Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Since 2010, she has served as music director of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Renton, Wa. In addition to leading the congregation in hymns and providing organ and piano music for the Sunday services, she directs and develops the musical skills of the adult choir. She also maintains an active piano studio, and collaborates regularly as an accompanist and with chamber music groups on the piano, harpsichord and organ.

Saturday’s recital will be Valleau’s first solo organ performance in her hometown of Andover and also her first formal outing on Christ Church’s Fisk, which made its official concert debut at the church last fall.

Valleau said this week she’s enjoying rehearsing on the new organ and looking forward to Saturday’s performance.

“I’m having a blast,” she said.

Saturday’s concert program will feature preludes by Bach, Brahms and New England composer Amy Beach. The first half of the program will end with Bach’s “Fugue in E-Flat Major,” sometimes called the “St. Anne.” The recital concludes with a portion of the best-known work of Parisian organist-composer Charles Tournemire (1870-1939). Valleau has chosen the section “L’Épiphanie” in five movements from Tournemire’s large work “L’Orgue Mystique” (his opus 55).

There will be an opportunity to meet and talk with Valleau following the recital. Admission is $15, $10 for students and seniors. Visit www.christchurchandover.org for more.