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Renowned organist-in-residence to give free recital tonight

Nov. 10, 1998

BY EMILY GIBSON

Reporter

Emily_L_Gibson@baylor.edu

Award-winning organist Dr. Joyce Jones will play a recital to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of the McLane Organ at 8 tonight in Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building.

The organ was given to Baylor by the Drayton McLane family of Temple. It is a 92-rank, four-manual organ and is the largest pipe organ between Dallas and Austin.

In an earlier press release, Jones said, 'The McLane Organ has proven to be a versatile instrument and an invaluable addition to the School of Music.'

Jones said she planned her recital to celebrate the organ's anniversary because 'significant anniversaries should be marked with something special.'

Jones has won several awards including the Award of Merit, the highest honor given by the Mu Phi International Music Fraternity. Jones is only the eighth recipient of the award in its 96-year history. She is also one of only two Americans to receive a National Citation for her contribution to music from the National Federation of Music Clubs. In addition, she presented one of only four concerts in New York City for the American Guild of Organists.

'She is one of the finest organists in the country,' said Eric Mellenbruch, an organ performance graduate student from Corpus Christi.

Jones said she felt 'deeply honored' to be one of the Award of Merit recipients.

'It was really humbling,' she said. 'It means even more when it's your own group that honors you,' Jones added, explaining that she was a member of Mu Phi when she was in college.

Jones has traveled to 43 different states and more than a dozen foreign countries, including a recent trip to Italy. She is a nationally recognized concert artist in organ performance and usually plays to a sold-out crowd.

Jones said although she has performed around the world, she doesn't think of herself as a famous organist.

'I still think of myself as a little housewife from Waco, Texas,' she laughed.

She introduced many people to the organ who now come up to her and tell her that the first time they had ever heard an organ was when she came to their town, Mellenbruch said.

'She is a phenomenal performer,' Mellenbruch said. 'She is not a prima donna.'

This is not Jones' first performance playing the McLane Organ. She also played the inauguration concert back in 1993.

'It was such a thrill five years ago to be able to play the inaugural recital,' Jones said.

Jones said about six weeks after the inauguration concert, she had a heart attack and had to have triple bypass surgery.

'I just feel so grateful to be restored to wonderful health and to be able to play the (McLane Organ) anniversary recital,' she said.

'She's a dazzling performer,' said Dick Veit, concert and promotion manager.

Jones has many compact discs in stores, including Colors of the Organ, her most recent album.

Jones received her education from the University of Texas at Austin and has been teaching at Baylor since 1969. She is the Baylor University Joyce Oliver Bowden Professor of Music and the organist-in-residence.

Joanna Elliott of Dallas, one of her students, said working with Jones has been a wonderful experience.

'It is the most valuable time in my education,' Elliot said. 'I have learned a lot about many areas in organ music.'

At tonight's recital, Jones will play several signature pieces from her Summer Sounds concerts, including Charles Ives's Variations on 'America' and her encore piece form the inauguration, Leo Sowerby's showpiece for pedals, Pageant.

Jones said she planned a 'varied program to show all the wondeful things (the McLane Organ) will do.'

'She is an exciting performer,' Veit said. 'She gets the audience's attention. It is no surprise she consistently fills concert halls. We are very lucky to have her here at Baylor.'

'I feel that since God has given me this talent, it is my duty to share it with people, and I have been very privileged to share it around the world,' Jones said. 'I love music and I love to share it with people, and I just feel so happy that people like to hear me play.'

The concert is free of charge and open to the public.

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