This project presents the most comprehensive recording ever made of contemporary American organ composition. Featuring twenty world premiere recordings, as well as the only Barlow Prize commission for organ, the project presents works by major, non-organist composers representing the full diversity of styles prevalent in contemporary American classical composition. The goals for this triple-disc release, my debut recording, are twofold:
- Provide a showcase for current composers to hear what some of their most esteemed colleagues have written for the instrument, hopefully inspiring fresh interest in composing for the organ.
- Present top-notch, but regrettably little known, American masterworks to organists, organ music enthusiasts, and contemporary music aficionados new to the organ, building renewed interest in new music for the organ.
Organon, “the device”: the original Greek word for the instrument from the third century BCE. From the first-water driven hydraulis to later bellows-driven instruments, the pipe organ’s history and identity has been defined by the quest to provide the human body maximum artistic control over acoustic sound. The works on this recording shatter the all-too-common modern associations of the organ with churches and staid liturgical music, showcasing instead how twenty-five American composers have taken a fresh approach to the organ as the ultimate acoustic musical instrument, what Mozart called “the king of instruments”.
As a performer I am particularly attracted to works by non-organist composers, works which refreshingly avoid the well-worn gestures and techniques oft overused by incorrigible organists. Rather, works by non-organists such as those in this project often present novel and challenging figurations, eliciting compelling new sounds from the instrument. To be recorded in 2015-2016 on the historic 1928 Skinner organ in Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, the composers and works in this recording illustrate the widest diversity of compositional styles, stretching the sonic capabilities of this massive instrument and physical demands of the performer to the limit.
Compositional approaches range from the spectral tapestries and dynamic textures of Bolcom, Thomas and Zorn, to the linear complexity of Adler, Mamlok, and Polansky; from the full-bodied symphonic approaches of Foss, Ran, and Tower, to the eclectic and unique voices of Lang, Lucier and Wolff.
25 years, 25 American composers, 25 compositions
With Matthew Andreini, percussion, and Stephen Burns and Randy Grabowski, trumpet
* indicates world premiere recording
Samuel Adler, From Generation to Generation *
William Bolcom, Borborygm *
Matt Darriau, Diapason Fall *
Lukas Foss, War and Peace *
Jennifer Higdon, Meditation from Ceremonies
Tom Johnson, 55 Chords *
David Lang, Ordinary *
Libby Larson, On a Day of Bells *
John Anthony Lennon, Misericordia *
John Liberatore, Memetics *
Alvin Lucier, Sizzles with percussion *
Ursula Mamlok, Festive Sounds *
Larry Polansky, Sunday Organ Piece for Church *
Shulamit Ran, Hallel *
Erik Santos, Star Rising *
Jonathan Schwabe, New and Improved Dances with trumpet *
Roberto Sierra, Fantasia Cromática *
Augusta Read Thomas, Angel Tears and Earth Prayers with trumpet
Joan Tower, Ascent
Aaron Travers, Exodus *
Ken Ueno, An Idea of Order *
George Walker, Spires
Christian Wolff, Celesta *
John Zorn, Là-Bas *
One more work TBA