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Newton resident to play organ in Grinnell on Sunday

Published: Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 11:39 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 11:55 a.m. CST
(Dave Hon/Daily News)
Linda Bryant practices on her organ that she has in her home. Bryant will perform at 2 p.m. in Sunday at the Herrick Chapel on the Grinnell College Campus.

Despite her years of experience playing the organ, Linda Bryant never considered it her first job.

Bryant started playing when she was a sophomore in high school. For 45 years, she played the organ in church but said other things in her life often took precedence. When she first went to college, she said her goal was to be a full time director of music for a church.

“I got a little sidetracked because I married the minister,” Bryant said. “That kind of changed my goals about that, so I never really worked full time in church music but it was a very important second job for me.”

Bryant considers her first jobs being a mom, teaching piano in her home, going back to school for her music education degree and eventually teaching in public schools.

“The folks in the church where I grew up tell me from the time I was a toddler I used to stand in the balcony of the church where I could see the organist play and I would watch and direct the choir from my perch up there,” she said. “I just fell in love with the instrument at a very early age.”

This Sunday at Herrick Chapel on the Grinnell College campus Bryant will be playing on an organ that was built in 1948. She said the organ was restored in 2009 and when she played on it she could immediately tell the difference.

“I still enjoy the process of digging into music that is very challenging,” Bryant said. “It makes me work hard and keeps stretching me both in terms of my body and my mind. And my heart.”

The most difficult piece in Bryant’s program for Sunday is a Sonate by Felix Mendelssohn. She said pieces written recently for the organ are borrowing from Jazz and Rag Time.

Bryant said playing the organ is vastly different than playing the piano, not only because the instrument requires the use of hands and feet, but because of the sound it can make.

“Also you get to work with all kinds of sound,” Bryant said. “I like to think of it as you paint music as an orchestra would cause there’s so many different sounds you can choose from.”

Bryant said she is a little nervous to play on Sunday, but she’s always nervous prior to a performance.

“Most of the time when I get on the bench the nerves go out the window,” Bryant said. “I just love doing it.”

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at dhon@newtondailynews.com.