‘Birthday’ concert to showcase Cathedral organ’s capabilities

CATHEDRAL ORGANIST --- Samuel “Sal” Soria, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’ organist since it opened in 2002, prepares for a May 5 concert celebrating the pipe organ’s tenth “birthday.” — PAULA DOYLE

Organ music will reverberate in the soaring space of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels May 5 as Cathedral organist and award-winning musician Samuel “Sal” Soria, performs in a concert celebrating the pipe organ’s tenth “birthday.”

The 4 p.m. concert will feature a diverse program of classical music and an improvisation by Soria highlighting the organ’s majestic sound, echoing in the huge Cathedral.

“I’ve played organs with more pipes before, but not any organ in 3.3 million cubic feet of space,” said Soria, who was organist at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago before being selected to be the organist for L.A.’s Cathedral dedicated on Sept. 2, 2002. Finishing touches to the organ, built by Iowa-based Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, were completed in May, 2003.

A Chicago native who began playing the organ at 7 — and just a few years later started providing organ accompaniment for his first Catholic Mass as a fifth grader — Soria was drawn to the Cathedral’s contemporary architecture as well as the opportunity to debut a brand new organ. “To be named the organist with a pipe organ ‘right out of the box,’ that’s something,” said Soria.

For the organ’s tenth anniversary concert, he will play a piece that he performed at the Cathedral’s dedication and hasn’t performed since: Sonata on the 94th Psalm by German composer Julius Reubke, who died at age 24.

“It’s one of the most turbulent organ pieces in all of organ literature,” notes Soria. “For Reubke to have written this grand opus [in his twenties] — Wow!”

Soria notes that the concert program will showcase the organ’s capabilities, requiring “lots of [pedal] footwork” on his part for the two opening pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach.

After he performs a rarely-played piece of “some of the most passionate music” ever by the late English composer Herbert Howells, Soria will play an improvisation, an acclaimed skill.

In 1996, he was a prize winner in the American Guild of Organist Improvisation Competition at Trinity Church, on Wall Street in New York, and also took a prize at the prestigious J.S. Bach International Competition in Organ at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In addition, Soria has three CD recordings issued by classical music labels, and his work has been broadcast nationally on the Minnesota Public Radio program, “Pipedreams.”

Following his improvisation piece, Soria will play “Pavanne” by the late Robert Elmore, which he describes as a “gentle,” work before the grand finale by Reubke.

As an incentive for young people to attend, the concert is admitting students for free, waiving the suggested donation of $10. “We’re trying to reach out to youth,” said Soria, who is continually amazed at school children visiting the Cathedral who frequently ask him what instrument he is playing.

“I’ve gotten to know the organ a lot better” since playing at the dedication concert ten years ago, noted Soria, who does concerts and workshops across the U.S. in addition to his full Cathedral schedule of religious services, festivals, concerts and recitals. “The program is going to offer plenty of variety” for the audience.



Things beyond our imagination

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Recently, at an academic dinner, I was sitting across the table from a nuclear scientist. At one point, I asked him this question: Do you believe that there’s human life on other planets? His answer surprised me: “As a scientist, no, I don’t believe there’s human life on another planet.


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October 4, 2015

  • Sunday, October 4

    Gerard Thomas Straub Book Signing, 9 a.m.- 1p.m., Holy Family Bookstore, 1519 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. Straub will discuss his newly re-released book, “The Sun and Moon Over Assisi.” (626) 403-6133.

    St. Kateri Mass, 11 a.m., St. Marcellinus Church, 2349 Strong Ave., Commerce. Everyone is welcome to honor and follow in the footsteps of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Potluck and raffle immediately following – bring a favorite dish to share!

    Faith Support on Our Cancer Journey, 2-4 p.m., Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes. This afternoon of reflection will explore ways for those struggling with cancer can nurture their spirits and seek divine guidance and support. $25 ($20 if paid in full by September 25). (310) 377-4867. www.maryjoseph.org.

    “Come and See” Vocation Event, 2-7 p.m., Heart of Jesus Retreat Center, 2927 S Greenville St., Santa Ana. Single women of high school and college age are invited by Sacred Heart Sisters to learn more about religious life. Dinner will be provided. RSVP by Oct. 3 at (714) 557-4583 or heartofjesusrc@sbcglobal.net. 

    Once Upon a Time: Stories to Awaken the Mysteries of the Heart, 3-5 p.m., Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes. $25. (310) 377-4867. www.maryjoseph.org.

    Rosary and Mass for Life, Rosary: 4:30 p.m., Mass: 5 p.m., St. Cornelius Church, 5500 E Wardlow Rd., Long Beach. Contact Sylvia Aimerito (562) 429-1965. Audiogirlministries.com.

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