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Norbertines of Saint Norbert Abbey

Canon John Bruce Memorial Concerts

Abbey OrganThe Canon John O. Bruce Memorial Concert Series will once again be offered this fall and next spring at St. Norbert Abbey.

Three accomplished organists will be highlighted for 2013-2014:

Jean-Baptiste Robin will jump-start the series on October 19, 2013.

David Enlow will perform on March 22, 2014.

Nigel Potts will conclude the series on May 3, 2014.

These performances are a gift to the musical world, in the area and beyond.

The Abbey houses an impressive Casavant organ (one of the finest in the country) and is highly regarded among organists throughout the world. The Abbey Church is well known for its acoustics and is considered one of the best venues for concerts in the state. With brilliant performances by world-class organists, these concerts are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who attend.

Please note:  all concerts are Saturdays at 2 p.m., open to the public with a free will offering.


2013–2014 Performers

Jean-Baptiste Robin  
October 19, 2013
Jean-Baptiste Robin

Jean-Baptiste Robin is one of the most prominent French organists and composers of his generation. He has studied in Paris and London, and has been recognized with a multitude of awards and two postgraduate diplomas, with honors.

As a composer, Robin is the author of 30 works ranging from solo instrument to full orchestra. His recordings have been hailed by the press and awarded highest distinctions in France and in the U.S. Robin’s organ works are performed around the world. He has also taught master’s classes on French organ music across the globe. In Europe he has performed in famous international organ festivals, and he has appeared throughout the continent, in Japan, Korea, North Africa, Canada, in more than 15 of the United States and in Washington, D.C.

At age 23, Robin was appointed to the prestigious post of organist of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Poitiers. In 2010 he was appointed organist at the Royal Chapel in the palace of Versailles, a position he still holds today. He is also professor of organ at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional in Versailles.

Robin is represented by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists ( /

Grand Dialogue in C major (1696)
George BIZET
Entr'Acte from Carmen (transcription by J.-B. Robin)
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (transcription by J.-B. Robin)
Charles-Marie WIDOR
Allegro from Symphonie No.6, Op. 42 in G minor
Second Fantasy
Marcel DUPRÉ
Second Sketch in B-flat minor
Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H
Six Romanian Folk Dances Sz 68
Jean-Baptiste ROBIN
Cinq Versets sur le « Veni Creator » (Five Versets on “Veni Creator”)
David Enlow  
March 22, 2014
David Enlow

David Enlow is an internationally renowned concert and church musician who has performed throughout the United States, in Canada, and across England and Europe.  He is Organist and Choir Master of the Church of the Resurrection in New York, where he directs a professional choir. This choir performs more than 50 mass settings each season, often with orchestra. He is also a member of the organ faculty of The Juilliard School, responsible for the service-playing component of the curriculum.

Enlow studied with Paul Jacobs and John Weaver, and holds degrees from The Juilliard School. He also studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with John Tuttle in Toronto. He is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, winner of the S. Lewis Elmer and Fellowship prizes, and also recipient of several national performance first prizes in the U.S.A.

Visit to hear Enlow’s playing, see a calendar of performances and more.

  Edvard GRIEG Suite “in Holberg’s time” (transcription by D. Enlow)
  Two Lenten hymns
  J. S. BACH O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross
  Johannes BRAHMS Herzlich tut mich verlangen (Passion Chorale)
  W. A. MOZART Fantasy in F Minor, K. 608
Allegro ritenuto
Allegro ritenuto
  Louis VIERNE Naïades (Pièces de Fantaïsie)
  Louis VIERNE Adagio (Symphonie No. 3)
  Henri MULET Carillon-Sortie
Nigel Potts  
May 3, 2014
Nigel Potts

Bio coming soon.

  Richard WAGNER
Prelude to Act 1 from Lohengrin (transcription by Edwin Lemare)
    The Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin is a closely unified composition. Its content is symbolic: the descent from heaven of angels bearing the Grail, and their final return to heaven, having left the Grail in the care of holy men. Such a visionary experience is conveyed not only by the spaciousness and ethereality of the thematic material, but also by the rarefied quality of Wagner’s orchestration. The British born Edwin Lemare was one of the most popular concert organists of the early twentieth century, who spent much of his life living in the USA. Today he is especially known for his prolific output of organ transcriptions.
Overture from The Occasional Oratorio (transcription by Nigel Potts)
    Written in 1745, when Handel was close to bankruptcy and a crisis was brewing for English politics, Handel quickly wrote this oratorio. Its overture is a fine, stately work which contains a theme from the overture to Telemann’s Troisième production of the Musique de table, and like much of Handel’s music, transcribes successfully for the organ.
  J. S. BACH
Allegretto from Pastorale (BWV 590) (transcription by C.M. Widor)
    As a preface to Albert Schweitzer’s Bach monograph of 1907, Widor wrote:

“Bach is the most universal of all artists. What he expresses in his works is pure religious feeling. And this is on and the same in all people, irrespective of the national and denominational differences into which we are born and brought up. It is the feeling of the sublime and in the infinite, of which words will always be an inadequate expression and which can only be truly represented in art. For me, Bach is the greatest preacher. His cantatas and passions move the soul, so that man becomes receptive to all that is true and unifying and becomes raised above the petty and divisive.”

Widor regarded himself as the heir to a long and honorable tradition which through a direct line of teachers, reaches back to Bach, and which legacy represents an aspiration to him. Not surprising, in his class at the Paris Conservatory, Widor had his students study the works of just two composers, Bach and himself. This Pastorale comes from a set of six Bach transcriptions, which Widor titled ‘Bach’s Memento’ in which Widor pays tribute to the great master.
Toccata & Fugue in D minor (Op. 59, No. 5 and 6)
    A devout Catholic, Max Reger was born in Bavaria and it was a visit to Wagner’s opera house in Bayreuth at the age of 15 that finally convinced Reger that his life should be devoted to music. During his short and hectic life, he taught, conducted and performed all over Europe, but Reger is best known for his prolific output as a composer, writing not only vast amounts of organ music, but pieces for piano, chamber, vocal and orchestral music too. His compositions are strongly influenced by Beethoven and Brahms, and although his phenomenal contrapuntal skill was nourished by a lifelong study of Bach, the constant shifting chromaticism of his harmony owes more to Wagner.

Much of his organ music is full of paradoxical contrasts, and this Toccata is no exception with pages absolutely black of notes, which exist side by side with passages of extraordinary delicacy and sensitivity. The fugue is an exception work in that it is one continuous crescendo and accelerando, which momentum keeps building to and ending climax with full organ.
Saraband for any 3rd October
    Saraband for any 3rd October, was written especially for Nigel Potts in 1993. The 3 October dedication is a homage to Howells (Paul Spicer’s composition teacher) who wrote a Saraband for any 12th October in his Partita for organ reflecting Vaughan Williams’s birthday. The 3rd of October is Nigel Potts’s birthday. The Saraband is a rhapsodic conception, which builds from the insistent rhythm stated at the outset (the second beat emphasis being the defining characteristic of the Saraband) to a white-hot climactic page that, unusually, is for manuals only. After subsiding from this, a second, briefer build up and dying away brings the piece to a quiet conclusion. Nigel Potts premiered the Saraband in Westminster Abbey in 1994.
  Herbert HOWELLS
Psalm Prelude (Set 2, No. 3)
    Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing praises lustily unto him with a good courage.’ Psalm 33, verse 3

Herbert Howells was one of the most remarkable composers of his time. A pupil of Stanford at the Royal College of Music in London, he quickly grew a reputation as being the most gifted composer of his generation. He had an immediately recognizable style which grew out of a scale he acknowledged as being the core of his harmonic and melodic approach. That scale includes the sharpened fourth and flattened seventh degrees which give both tonal ambiguity as well as the modal possibilities which are typical of the Vaughan Williams school of which Howells was a devotee.

Psalm Prelude Set 2, No.3 is the longest of Howells’ Psalm Preludes and it is a fine example of his ability as a composer to the set a mood to the text, not only in his choral music, but his organ music. The ternary-based structure begins with strong harmonies, lively rhythmic figurations and a Tuba solo, before subsiding to a peaceful central section based on a fugal motive. The work gradually builds up and Howells develops the ideas of the opening section to ultimately end with a coda of triumphant glory on full organ
  Alexandre GUILMANT
Sonata in D minor (Op. 42, No. 1)
Introduction & Allegro
    One of the leading figures of the French Romantic School, Guilmant was a prolific composer, teacher and organist, whose tours to America were particularly successful.

Amongst his compositions, he wrote eight sonatas for organ of which he later arranged the first and eighth for organ and orchestra as his first and second symphonies. Today’s performance is influenced by his symphonic score.

The first movement begins with a majestic Introduction in the French overture style, followed by a substantial symphonic Allegro with contrasting themes. The idyllic Pastorale shows off some of the more orchestral colors of this organ, before leading into the Finale. The final movement is much in the French toccata genre with it rapid figurations. Just before the conclusion, a brief Andante maestoso coda is introduced with thrilling trumpet fanfares and the work ends with a splendid affirmation of the tonic major key.


Canon John O. BruceThe Reverend Canon John O. Bruce was a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac who was enamored with the beautiful sound of the Abbey organ. Because of his friendship with the Norbertine Fathers and love of music, he established a fund for the upkeep of the organ console as well as for the presentation of organ concerts. Through Canon John’s generosity, the concerts are free and open to the public so that all may share in the beauty of the Abbey and the organ music within its walls.

Canon John O. Bruce (standing) with Abbot Sylvester Killeen, O. Praem.


Past Concert Series' Information

Norbertines of Saint Norbert Abbey