Guest blogger and Organ expert Michael Barone explores our upcoming January 19th Handel • Rheinberger • Brossé concert featuring Dirk Brossé, conductor and Miho Saegusa (violin), Matt Glandorf (organ), Alan Morrison (organ), Jeffrey Brillhart (organ) in a four part series about this amazing night of concertos! Tickets and information here.
Stephen Paulus (b. 1949) had already begun to make a name as composer of choral, chamber and orchestral music in the 1970s and 80s when he was discovered to be a ‘closet organist’. The surprise premiere of his First Organ Concerto, presented to a national convention of the American Guild of Organists in 1990, was a stunning success. A real ear-opener, the piece is scored for the colorful opportunities of organ with string orchestra plus percussion, providing three distinct sonic textures with which to weave a compelling compositional tapestry.
Not surprisingly, we learned that Stephen’s businessman father, an avocational organist, had taught his son a thing or two about the instrument along the way, and it showed. The piece has been commercially recorded (PIPEDREAMS CD-1003) and is the most performed of all of Stephen’s concerted works . That First Concerto led to the commission and creation of many subsequent organ solos (plus some duets) and three additional concertos. Two more were in the planning stages when Stephen’s stroke last summer put him (we hope temporarily) out of commission.
And the ball continues to roll. As example, four new organ concertos (by Pamela Decker, Rachel Laurin, Robin Dinda and Dan Locklair) were premiered in a single concert of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina two summers ago, and it would be safe to claim that since the millennium several dozen new organ-and-orchestra scores have been added to the growing tally of 21st century organ music. This ages-old instrument is very much alive in present time. Interestingly, the most recent item on our concert, by Maestro Dirk Brossé, follows in the mold of one of the progenitors of the organ-and-orchestra trend, Antonio Vivaldi, who often grouped disparate instrumental soloists in his concertos, as does Maestro Brossé in the work we’ll present. Alan Morrison, who teaches both at the Curtis Institute and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, will play the solo parts in both Paulus and Brossé scores.
What a treat is in store for us!
Check back to learn more about Miho Saegusa, the evening’s fabulous violinist.
About our Guest Blogger: Michael Barone has been employed at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media for 45 years, for a quarter-century as music director and more recently as host/producer of national classical broadcasts such as PIPEDREAMS. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, and awards from the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers have paid tribute to his lifelong contributions to the world of music.
This show is part of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ Series, and is co-presented by The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Organ performances are made possible through a donation by the Fred J. Cooper Restoration Fund as recommended by Frederick R. Haas and Daniel K. Meyer.