The Star-Herald

Celebration of Praise concert returns

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Celebrated organist Mark Thallander will return for the third annual Celebration of Praise concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Grant Memorial United Methodist Church.

The public is welcome to enjoy music from Thallander and other well-known area musicians.  They will be sharing their talents to round out the concert with a wide variety of musical praise styles, including instrumentalists, a choir and handbell choir.

Thallander is excited about his return to Presque Isle after the warm and friendly reception he had at his first two concerts here.

An acclaimed organist who experienced the tragic misfortune of losing his left arm in a car accident in 2003, he will play the Rodgers organ at the church using only his right hand and his feet.

Thallander tells the story of his accident that occurred as he was driving alone through a thunderstorm on the night of Aug. 3, 2003. His car hydroplaned and crashed into a ditch at an exit just south of Portland. The accident broke the window, resulting in his left arm sticking outside of the vehicle as it rolled in the ditch. 

Once the vehicle was stationary, he opened his eyes to see a blood-covered windshield. 

“I didn’t feel any pain but was kind of in a prayer mode,” Thallander said. “Then a voice said to me, ‘Don’t close your eyes. Keep talking to me. Take off the seatbelt and turn off the ignition. Help is on the way.’ The voice sounded like a woman’s voice.”

Help arrived and took him to the hospital. When he left the hospital, he wanted to give a card to the woman who got out in the storm that night to speak to him in the ditch, but all the records showed that there were no witnesses. Thallander said he believes the peaceful voice of the woman may have been his guardian angel.

Thallander was an accomplished organist before the accident.  Playing for the Crystal Cathedral (Hour of Power telecast in Garden Grove, California) for 18 years, he became well known by its many millions of viewers over those years.  His career has spanned 40 years and has taken him all over the world.  

He is also president of The Mark Thallander Foundation, an organization founded in 2005 to bring joyous and inspirational music events to communities nationwide.

Concert admission is free, but donations will be accepted.  For more information, contact Grant Memorial United Methodist Church.

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