Jillian Gardner Presents Satisfying Recital in Doc Rando Recital Hall


Young organist Jillian Gardner presented a solid and satisfying organ recital on the Southern Nevada Chapter’s 2018-2019 Recital Series on Friday, January 11, 2019 on the Maurine Jackson Smith Organ the 2004 Rudolf von Beckerath mechanical action organ in UNLV’s Dr. Arturo Rando-Grillot Recital Hall.

About 110 people attended the program, the third of the series in the season. Accented by Ms. Gardner’s “hot pink” signature organ shoes, the program included works from the Baroque, Romantic and Contemporary style periods: Camille Saint-Saens, Rachel Laurin, J.S. Bach, Olivier Messiaen, Albert Lewis Barnes, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Josef Rheinberger. The relatively unknown Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, Op. 99, No. 3 by Saint Saens made a solid opening to the program. Also not well-known were the two short delightful pieces from Rachel Laurin’s Douze Courtes Pièces, Op. 68 – “Flight of the Hummingbird,” and “Dialogue of the Mockingbird.” These pieces were good “preludes” to the monumental Bach Passacaglia and Fugue, virtually known to everyone in the recital hall. The movement 5, “Force et agilité des Corps Glorieux” from Messiaen’s Les Corps Glorieux, provided extreme contrast. It was followed by an unknown work, Fugue in G Minor (a triple fugue on the BACH motive) by Albert Lewis Barnes (1861-1906) who lived mainly in the Utica, New York area (Ms. Gardner’s home), and had studied in New York City with the well-known organist Dudley Buck. Following the Barnes fugue were six excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, transcribed for organ by Ms. Gardner. Her program closed with an exciting performance of the “Passacaglia” from Josef Rheinberger’s Organ Sonata No. 8, Op. 132. The program was carefully considered and well-performed; it had something for everyone—new pieces not well-known as well as favorite works known by everyone.

In May of 2020 Ms. Gardner will graduate from Baylor University with her Artist Diploma in Organ Performance where she has studied with Dr. Isabelle Demers. She has accepted a position as Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama where she will oversee a large and comprehensive music program.

Dr. Nancy Uscher, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, before the recital began, formally launched the campaign to raise funds for the Maurine Jackson Smith Organ Maintenance Endowment Fund established by the donors of the organ, the Edward D. Smith family, through the UNLV Foundation for the care and maintenance in perpetuity of the organ, a Nevada treasure.

Thanks to Christian Lentz for again doing his “tour” of the Maurine Jackson Smith von Beckerath organ for members of the audience after the recital, and thanks also to member David Zechman for coordinating the reception after the program.