Published 9:53 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Orrie Jirele, a former Albert Lea educator, plays the violin Wednesday during an Advent recital at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

’Tis the season to listen to holiday music and the open, peaceful atmosphere at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea is a perfect place to do it.

People gather Wednesday at First Lutheran Church to hear Orrie Jirele play violin while Brock Besse accompanies him on piano.

The church is halfway done with Advent recitals, which are held each Wednesday during Advent. Minister of music and worship Brock Besse said there are two more events scheduled, both starting at 12:15 p.m.

“It works well for people to get out during their lunch hour,” Besse said.

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The recitals last about a half an hour, and next Wednesday’s will feature the First Lutheran Women’s Chorus. Dec. 21 will feature Sue Jorgensen and friends. The first recital, held Nov. 30, featured Bob Tewes on the organ. Besse accompanied the last performer, Orrie Jirele, this past Wednesday.

“We have some talented people in town,” Besse said. “It’s a good time to share their talents.”

Jirele played the violin while Besse played the piano for a crowd of about 40 people. Jirele, of Albert Lea, played traditional Christmas carols for the crowd and finished up the recital with a few of his favorites, “Silent Night” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Brock Besse, the minister of worship and music at First Lutheran Church, accompanies violin player Orrie Jirele on Wednesday during an Advent recital.

“It’s a unique experience,” Jirele said of performing for the Advent recital.

Jirele is a retired educator and said he’s been playing violin much more since his retirement. He’s also in the Austin Symphony and plays frequently in weddings and for other special events.

One woman in the audience, who’s a member of First Lutheran Church, said she enjoys the recitals because they put her in the Christmas mood and she gets to see talented artists. She also said Besse and Jirele both had the “touch of the master’s hand.”

“It’s just such a nice quiet devotional time,” Neva Mathison said.

Jirele also played classics like “Away In a Manger,” “O Holy Night,” “What Child Is This?” and “God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

The recitals are open to everyone in the community, and there’s no charge to attend. Besse said people are welcome to bring lunch and eat while enjoying the music. The season of Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ as well as anticipating his second coming. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Dec. 25.

The United Methodist Church in Albert Lea also holds Advent recitals featuring organ players during the season at noon on Tuesdays.