An hour full of joyful music happens at noon Friday with the return of the annual Advent Concert Series at Riverside Community Church.
This year's inaugural concert features a pair of accomplished keyboardists stretching their skills.
The series itself stretches in 2011 to four performances instead of the usual three. (See box for schedule.) Riverside is located at Fourth and State streets.
On Friday, a concert of short pieces will feature Riverside organist Diana Beterbide on piano and Susan Ticknor, a professional piano teacher, at the church organ.
Beterbide has been playing at Riverside for more than 10 years, and this will be the first performance on the organ for Ticknor, who moved to Hood River last summer from upstate New York, where she taught piano and played organ at local churches. Her mother was a professional organist.
"I've always been involved in Advent programs in the past," Ticknor said. "It's part of our mission and what we love to do -- to bring this beautiful liturgical and secular music to the audience to enjoy it in the holiday season."
"It's great to have this music here at Riverside because the piano and organ will be tuned to one another, and it makes it very satisfying to play as professionals together," Beterbide said.
The keyboard musicians will be just one part of the playbill. Also performing are a number of Beterbide's students:
Nicole Becerra will play the flute, John Wagoner and Onar Smith will perform a piano duet and Ticknor's daughter, Maddie, will perform a piano duo.
In addition, siblings Nathan, Micah, Hannah and Havilah Reimche-Vu will simultaneously play a piano piece.
Beterbide and Ticknor both have had another teacher on hand this week: Margaret Marshall, Beterbide's predecessor at Riverside and the founder of the Advent Series some 30 years ago.
"It's great; it's easier to listen than it is to perform the music, and we have such good musicians, so it's wonderful," Marshall said.
"It's just an important time of year; there's always beautiful music to be performed at Christmas time, and it's wonderful to have people want to perform," she said.
Beterbide said, "I'm looking forward to working with Susan. Playing piano and organ at the same time can be a challenge, and it is working out well. Two keyboards is different than any other combination of instruments you may have."
"It's hard being away from an organ. It's been great," said Ticknor, relishing the chance to perform on the renowned full-size Riverside organ.
Ticknor added, "With two keyboards the sonority is so different, and you're just trying to bring them together."
The Advent concerts are free and open to the public. They start at noon Fridays through Dec. 23.