Musician Catie Moyer plays the organ, a versatile instrument that puts “the entire orchestra” at her fingertips.
Yet, she admits she’s sometimes envious of cellist Jonathan Simmons’ ability to play his stringed instrument and achieve varying degrees of loudness with his notes and the ability to “slide his notes.”
The two are partnering to deliver an impressive concert at 4 p.m. May 19. This will be the close of the 2018-19 season lineup for the Festiva cultural arts series.
The series is an outreach of First Presbyterian Church of Greenwood.
This concert pairs two instruments, organ and cello, “with a lot of dialogues back and forth between the two,” Moyer said.
The concert, titled “Seasons” takes its inspiration from the seasons of life and the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, which is also in Hebrew Scriptures.
Simmons, 24, and Moyer, 29, have carefully selected music that addresses prayer and other topics.
Among composers’ works in this concert will be “Four Seasons” for cello and organ, by composer Peter Mathews, along with works by Vivaldi, Max Bruch and more.
The concert is divided into several sections, one of which is titled, “A time to weep and a time to laugh.”
“One of the pieces in that section has been called the biggest fraud in music history,” Simmons said. “If you want to find out what that means, you’re going to have to come to the concert.”
Moyer said she will get to “show off” during the concert’s final piece, a dramatic organ solo, “Caprice, Op. 20, 3,” by Alexander Guilmant, arranged by Carsten Klomp.
This concert, Simmons and Moyer say, will be very family friendly, with a lot of variety.
“We have a lot of music on the program that is very easy to listen to, whether you know music or not,” Simmons said.
Simmons is a graduate of the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and a member of the Columbus, Georgia symphony orchestra.
Moyer is an accomplished independent organist and vocalist, who performs with a harp/organ duo Voix Celeste and she sings with the South Carolina Bach Choir.
Simmons admits the cello might not project sound as much as some other orchestral instruments, but the organ can produce loud, powerful sounds. With that in mind, Simmons said he and Moyer have to work at achieving the right balance between his strings and her keys, stops and pedals.
“What I like is that there are a few times when we are playing and you cannot tell which instrument is playing it,” Moyer said. “That’s always cool.”
Simmons said he got started with the cello “a little bit late” by a lot of musician standards, at age 11. He went through the Greenville County School system, attending the Fine Arts Center at Wade Hampton High School and the Young Artists Orchestra, the top division of the Greenville County youth orchestras.
Simmons received his undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University. Now, he is working on his masters degree at Columbus State University in Georgia. He also uses Skype to teach music lessons online and has a student as far away as Australia.
Moyer, who grew up in Kathleen, Georgia, said she doesn’t remember a time in her early years when she didn’t want to play the organ, but she first had to learn piano. Although both attended Bob Jones University for undergraduate degrees, Simmons and Moyer were not there at the same time. They met later, while working at Musical Innovations, a school music store in Greenville.
“We had this dinky little Hammond organ at my church,” Moyer recalled. “I really, really loved the sound of it. My dad found somebody who had a Baldwin Fun Machine organ and he bought it for me. He found an organ teacher for me and I couldn’t even play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’ The instructor was like, ‘You have to go learn piano first.’ So, it was enduring piano long enough to get where I could play notes well enough to play organ…If you can’t even play the notes, to add everything else that is involved with playing organ is just too much. You also have to be tall enough to reach the pedals, too.”
Moyer began taking organ lessons in high school and went on to Bob Jones University, where she received a church music degree.
“The complexity of the organ kind of terrified me at first,” she said. “But, I liked the rich sound of it and the power that you have at your fingertips.”