• Kraybill's three organs - each is her favorite

  • Jan Kraybill is the principal organist at Community of Christ Temple and Auditorium and the conservator for the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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  • Jan Kraybill is the principal organist at Community of Christ Temple and Auditorium and the conservator for the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
    Kraybill has two upcoming performances, one in Kansas City and one in Independence. “Audience Favorites” is at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway St., Kansas City. Tickets are $25 and $35. Visit www.kcsymphony.org or call 816-471-0400 for more information.
    Her 14th annual Super Bowl Sunday Recital is at 3 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Community of Christ Temple, 201 S. River Blvd., Independence. A freewill offering goes to support The Dome and Spire Organ Foundation. Visit www.jankraybill.com for more information on the musician and performer.
    1 Describe the selections in the “Audience Favorites” program, as chosen by an online audience survey. Were any pieces chosen that surprised you?
    It was surprising to watch the survey results come in. The Kansas City Symphony did the survey through email and Facebook. The very top vote winner, which I wasn’t surprised by, was the J.S. Bach “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” It’s heard a lot around Halloween. Bach didn’t write it for a particularly scary reason, but it’s been associated with scary organ music for a very long time.
    Also, they requested “Fantasy in F Minor” and “Adagio for Strings,” so there were some surprises, as well. I think it’s an interesting concept to take audience requests and just go with it. I’m very excited about the program.
    2 How are the two Casavant instruments that you oversee different, when it comes to performing? How are they similar?
    Of course, they were built by the same company. On paper, they are exactly the same size. They both have 102 ranks, or sounds.
    They are very different in the fact that they sit in two very different acoustics, so the design of the sounds that they make is very different based on the needs of the space. For instance, at Community of Christ, we do a lot of hymn singing, so to effectively lead hymns, there are more pipe sounds that are higher-pitched. At the Symphony, I don’t know that the instrument has ever been used to contribute to audience singing, and I don’t know that it will ever be used for that. What you need there is a very rich and colorful kind of sound, with variety and the ability to go from loudest to softest to match and enhance the orchestra.
    3 Describe the upcoming “Duels and Duets” Super Bowl Sunday Recital and how you came up with this year’s theme. How do you work to keep this program fresh and exciting after 14 years?
    Page 2 of 2 - I’ve fallen into this habit of year by year trying to come up with a theme that inspires a group of pieces and inspires me to put a group of pieces together. Our audio engineer Bob Haworth has always wanted to do a program that included both of Community of Christ organs, even though they’re across the street from one another. Through his technical wizardry, we will all be sitting in the Temple watching me perform, but we also will see and hear the organ in the Auditorium in duet with me. (Laughs) There is a way for that organ to play itself like a player piano, but it’s not very interesting to watch. We’re now thinking that I will pre-record what I did at the other organ to make it work. We haven’t done it yet, but we will.
    I started thinking about organists who have worked with other organists throughout history and those who didn’t get along. The whole program is based on organ duels and duets throughout history, and I’m finding it very fun to learn about all that.
    4 What is one question that you constantly get asked about the organ or about your work?
    I constantly get asked of the three instruments (two Community of Christ organs, one Kauffman Center organ) I now oversee which one is my favorite. To pick a favorite is like to pick a favorite child. When you are a parent, you know that every one of your children is unique and fascinating in their own way. That is what it is like to oversee these instruments. Each organ has its unique characteristics and things they do very, very well. It’s my great pleasure to play each of these instruments and take advantage of their unique characteristics. It would be impossible to pick a favorite.
    5 You rehearse the organ for hours each day in preparation for performances like these. How do keep from growing tired of the instrument?
    Oh, I never do. It doesn’t feel like work to me. The hours go by without me even thinking of them. It’s just such a pleasure. I suppose someone who loves to dance wouldn’t think of rehearsals as work or someone who loves to run wouldn’t think of track practice as work. Those things would be like work to me, but it’s not that way with the organ. Playing it is such a pleasure to me.

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