Driving force: Canton First UMC musicians headline concert fundraiser for new van
by Barbara P. Jacoby
bjacoby@cherokeetribune.com
February 04, 2011 11:29 PM | 1955 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Canton First United Methodist Church organist Joe Seidel of Canton, left, and pianist John Barker of southeast Cherokee County will perform a concert next weekend as a fundraiser to help the church buy a new 15-passenger van.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Anthony Stalcup
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The music at Canton First United Methodist Church on Sunday mornings is so exceptional it often moves the congregation to applause.

And two of the men helping to make it - pianist John Barker of southeast Cherokee County and organist Joe Seidel of Canton - will share their gifts with the whole community next weekend.

The duo will perform a concert of hymns and classical music at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13 as a fundraiser to aid the church in buying a new 15-passenger van. Admission is free, but donations will be collected.

The performance of about an hour also will be recorded, and DVDs and CDs will be sold for one for $10 or two for $15 to generate more funding. Pre-orders will be taken at the concert, with recordings ready in about two weeks. Church member Terry Metcalf is donating the production work.

"Joe and John's music is so powerful," Jennell Bryan of Canton, the church's adult ministry director, said as to why she proposed the concert as a fundraiser. "We want to share the gift and raise money for that van."

Seidel said Mrs. Bryan didn't have to make a hard sell.

"I love playing with John - it's my favorite thing of the week," Seidel said. "He's such a fabulous musician."

The concert, he said, will be about 70 percent familiar hymns that they'll rearrange on the spot, with the remainder classical music such as a Brahms waltz for four hands and a Bach prelude and fugue.

Seidel, 65, began playing the organ at age 14 in a community church in southern Illinois where he grew up. He went on to study the oboe at Illinois Wesleyan University and Yale University.

After serving in the Army and playing oboe in its band, Seidel began a career as a professional oboe player that has included performing with the Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Chamber Orchestra and the Atlanta Chamber Players.

He also continued to play the organ for 51 years for various churches including for the Ft. McPherson army base's Protestant church.

Seidel now teaches music at the First Montessori School of Atlanta, in his private home studio and as an adjunct professor at Reinhardt University in Waleska.

About three years ago, his daughter, Jory Cannon of Canton, told him her church, Canton First UMC, needed an organist. Seidel, who with his wife, Charleen, has one daughter, Mrs. Cannon, and two grandchildren, had been thinking about playing for a church closer to home.

It's been a match made in heaven.

"In 50 years of playing, I'd never heard such applause before," Seidel said of performing with Barker at Canton First UMC. "I like that people appreciate the music."

Barker, 41, began his service at the church four years ago, but has been playing the piano since age 10.

He graduated cum laude from Kent State University with a music education degree and is the owner of Delphi Global Technology. He and his wife, Wendy, have two children, Andrew, 6, and Jordan, 4.

Barker said he looks forward to the special concerts with Seidel - this will be their second - as it's a chance to let the congregation "see a different side of what we can do."

He and Seidel play both the piano and the organ, but don't switch except at the special concerts. The performances also are an opportunity to rearrange favorite hymns for a concert "light enough to be enjoyed by everybody."

"It's very fresh, very new," he said of the improvisations. "It couldn't be played the exact same way twice."
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