Acclaimed organist to lead PI praise concert

Terry Sandusky, Special to the Star-Herald, Special to The County
6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On Sunday, Aug. 27, at 4 p.m., the public is invited to attend a concert led by Mark Thallander, a world-renowned organist who will be the featured musician in a “Celebration of Praise” concert.

The concert will be held at the Grant Memorial United Methodist Church in Presque Isle. Thallander will perform on the Rodgers organ at the church using only his one hand and his feet.

 The musician lost his left arm in a car accident in 2003, which occurred as he was driving alone through a thunderstorm. His car hydroplaned and crashed into a ditch at an exit just south of Portland. The crash broke the window and left his left arm sticking outside the vehicle as it rolled in the ditch.

Once the vehicle was stationary, Thallander said, he opened his eyes to see a blood-covered windshield. “I didn’t feel any pain but was kind of in a prayer mode. 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.”

He was taken to the hospital, and upon leaving 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.

“All I know is that when I was alone, bleeding to death, God took care of me,” he added.

Thallander was an accomplished organist before the accident and played for the Crystal Cathedral  and “Hour of Power” in Garden Grove, Calif., for 18 years. His career as an organist has spanned 40 years and 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.

Local musicians will join him for the concert, including church organist Dan Ladner, Mari-Jo Hedman, Jayne Shaw, Kevin Kinsey, and the combined Handbell Choirs from the Presque Isle Congregational and Grant Memorial Methodist churches, among others, to present a variety of praise styles.

Concert admission is free, but donations will be accepted.  For more information, contact the church.