Category Archives: Features

Straightforward Organ Music

mawby
Colin Mawby
Composer profile from MelBay

There are many levels of contemporary organ composition ranging from the extremely difficult to the very straightforward. Most organ composers wish to be seen as great writers who produce difficult and challenging pieces which will achieve quick recognition and be played by the world’s top virtuosi. This is a praiseworthy ambition but it is rarely fulfilled.

If one studies the ability of organists one sees that about 95% are ordinary players who perform in church on Sundays on not very good instruments. Of these 95%, very few are professional players and many have only a basic technique. Many are reasonably open-minded about repertoire and welcome new music which is written for players of their ability who have little time to practice. They take great pride in their work and always offer their insights and talents to congregations and give them voluntaries which raise their hearts and minds to the Creator.

I plead for composers to write for this important group; take it seriously and produce music which is tuneful, attractive and appealing. These organists are never going to play virtuoso music – they can manage a simplified version of Widor’s Toccata but not much beyond this. If one looks at the great output of French organ music, one sees that composers like Franck, Lefebure-Wely and others wrote much very pleasant music for precisely this market. It did not prevent them establishing a reputation as great virtuoso composers – quite the contrary.

Contemporary composers should write for this market and extend its repertoire. Many ordinary organists will applaud and thank them for doing this essential and valuable work.

Colin Mawby

Contact information:
Colin Mawby
136 High Street
Needham Market
IP6 8DW
UK

Phone Number:  0044 144 972 3321
E-mail Address: contact@colinmawby.com
Website

Have you ever wondered how to get those professional touches which add sparkle to your choir’s performance? Go to Music-for-Church-Choirs.com to find advice, information, and regular free choirtraining from Colin Mawby in the monthly Newsletter Vivace!

An Organist’s Life in Israel

romrab
At the music presentation for Itzhak Rabin
Sarabande from Symphony for Organ #1, ‘Jewish’ (excerpt, MP3)

I learned to play organ in the Gorky conservatory in the class of Russian organist Galina Kozlova, who, unfortunately, died at the peak of her artistic career. In 1990 I emigrated to Israel, unaware that in Israel an organist is about as useful as an Arctic researcher. Nonetheless, I soon became involved in various concerts and festivals, which gave me hope for a bright musical future. I was especially proud to perform frequently with musicians from the famous Tel-Aviv Symphony Orchestra.

My concert activity
I started the career of a concert organist through meeting a Swiss lady, Margrit Pfister. While she was neither a musician nor artist manager, she very successfully arranged my organ performances in various countries. Organist and musicologist Peter Brusius from Marburg also helped me immensely. I dedicated my organ symphonies No. 2 and 3 to Margrit and Peter. Thus, I have been concertizing throughout Europe for 13 years. I am fortunate to have performed in:

Berlin Dom
Berlin, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis Church
Rome, Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
Marburg, St. Elisabeth Church
Düsseldorf, Neander Church
Basel Cathedral (also for “Commemorating the 1st Zionist Congress)
Basel, St. Peter Church
Jerusalem, all churches
Rotterdam, St. Laurens Church
Frankfurt am Main, St.Katharin Church

And, of course, Cologne Cathedral, where I flew just hours after having participated in my wife’s labor and delivery of our child.
In the future, there are performances planned in München Dom, in Gent Cathedral, in Dresden’s Kreuzkirche, and in Luxemburg’s Sacre-Coeur.

My life in Israel as organist and composer
I made my home in northern Israel, in the lovely town of Carmiel. It is quite far from the cultural centers. There I started teaching piano in the local conservatory. Of course, it was impossible to make a living on the conservatory salary, and through a big personal favor I obtained a job very far removed from organ music — in the department of street sanitation. When the Israeli media learned about this, I was featured in the news and the most popular TV shows. There were films made about me, and I became so well known that people recognized me in the streets and stopped their cars to say “hello” to me. That’s when I got a call from the office of then-Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin and was asked to perform at one of his meetings. An electronic organ, “Johannus”, was brought, and I played Bach chorales (whose content doesn’t fit Judaism very well), and the “Toccata without Fugue” in d. Everyone was very happy, and Rabin said he’s known about me for a while and values me.

In 1993 I was invited to the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem to teach organ. In spite of the long distance between my home and the Academy (200 km/124 miles) I drove there once a week after my night job, taught organ, and returned the same day to work at night once again. This lasted for four years. There was no pipe organ in the Academy, and my lessons were taught on the electronic “Johannus” to the very few people in Israel who want to study organ.

I started composing for the organ after the 1995 assassination of Itzhak Rabin. My first piece is titled “Mourning Itzhak Rabin”. For a long time, I wanted to hear Jewish music on the organ, and decided to start contributing to that cause. After a few new pieces, I composed the “Jewish Symphony” for the organ, which became my “calling card”. Swiss organist Patricia Ott plays two of my “Jewish” opuses. Recently French organist Domenico Severin performed the finale of my Second symphony in Paris in Eglise de La Madeleine. I dedicated my “Toccata Domenicale” to him. It turned out to be quite complex, and I don’t know whether he is happy with my “gift” or not.

I released four CDs with “Hänssler” (one of CDs is performed on the piano). Also I released a CD recorded on the piano with my daughter Iryna Krasnovska. She is studying in the music academy of Basel, and in March 2004 won first place in the Rahn Competition in Switzerland.
Soon a new CD will come out with my three organ symphonies, recorded on the wonderful Seifert organ in Rhede, Germany.

I must say that I almost do not perform in Israel, save the rare concerts in Tel Aviv’s Immanuel-Church on a small (16 rank) but lovely instrument. When I contact organists in other countries and ask about opportunities to perform in their cathedrals, they naturally ask me to arrange their concerts in Israel. Since I am unable to help them with this request, our dialogue usually ends right there.

I would very much like to find an artist manager. I have been contacting U.S. churches and synagogues offering to perform there, with limited success. As an Israeli organist, an opportunity to perform the Jewish symphony in a synagogue or temple would be a unique experience both for me and for the listeners.

Other organists in Israel
First and foremost I would like to mention Valery Maisky – very talented and widely known organist who emigrated from Russia. He died in a tragic auto accident in 1981. He was the brother of world-famous cellist Mischa Maisky. Valery’s daughter Nira Maisky, who was born in Israel, continues in her father’s footsteps and is currently studying in the Royal Conservatoire of Music and Dance, The Hague, Netherlands.

Elisabeth Roloff – wonderful German organist, who has lived and worked in Israel for many years. She is currently the organist at the Redeemer Church in Jerusalem and faculty member of the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (episodically, as the students appear). It was she who graciously recommended me to the Academy. Elisabeth is an active concert organist and is known around the world.

Juan Onassis came to Israel from Uruguay in 1969. He is the organist of Immanuel Church in Tel Aviv – Jaffo. Thanks to him, we Israeli organists have the opportunity to perform in our country, because regular organ concerts are held only at St. Immanuel.

Alexander Gorin is an excellent organist from the former USSR, who emigrated to Israel in 1990. Currently he teaches organ at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. He also gives concerts in other countries.

Rina Shechter emigrated from the former USSR. She performs solo and with various choirs. I have heard her only once and was very impressed with her informed, thoughtful playing.

Sabin Levi came from Bulgaria. He studied organ in Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance with Elisabeth Roloff. Currently he received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas at Lawrence, in organ (studying with Prof. James Higdon) and composition (studying with Prof. Charles Hoag). Sabin Levi has established himself as a brilliant performer and excellent composer .

Everything I wrote above is about immigrants – people who came to Israel from various countries. Now a few words about Israeli-born organists.

A person born in Israel who decides to study organ is extremely rare and unique. I can say that this person traveled a road that does not exist, especially if they are from a religious Jewish family with Yemen roots, such as Pnina Adany. Pnina studied in the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance with Elisabeth Roloff. There was a period when she frequently performed in various concerts and festivals. Currently her performances in Israel are rare (as they are rare for the rest of us).

Yuval Rabin was born in Israel and studied with Elisabeth Roloff. After that he continued his studies in Basel with Guy Bovet. Yuval Rabin is also an excellent composer and he released a CD with Israeli organ music.

About the First Israeli Organ Festival
The most important event in the Israeli organ music life was the First Organ Festival of 2003. The festival was organized by Gerard Levi, who poured his heart and soul (and money) into it. Based on the financial results, I think the first festival was also the last. In the musical sense, the festival was a great success. The concerts were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The Haifa University organ was built by Israeli organbuilder Gideon Shamir. Unfortunately, this organ is not used often enough, mostly being “furniture”.

A unique feature of the festival was that each performer played two concerts, and there was to be no repetition of any piece throughout the festival. This created certain difficulties in setting of the repertoire, especially since three festival participants came from other countries. The European performers were Francois Espinasse, titular organist of Saint-Severin church in Paris; Vincent Warnier, titular organist of Saint-Etienne du Mont church in Paris, Istvan Ella, well-knowned Hungarian organ player from Budapest. The Israeli organists participating were Elisabett Roloff, Sabin Levi, Yuval Rabin and myself.

Translated from Russian by Lana Krakovskiy

Contact information:
Azmon 4/4
20100 Carmiel
Israel
tel. and fax: + 972-4-9988170
e-mail: krasn@012.net.il

Sebastian M. Glück Opus 8 — Pictures and sounds

gluckorgan_1
Dr. William F. Entriken, Organist and Choirmaster of First Presbyterian Church (l) and Sebastian M. Glück (r) after dedicatory recital of Opus 8 last Fall
The Sebastian M. Glück Opus 8 was inaugurated in the Fall of 2003. A new CD, “A Small Wonder: Music from Alexander Chapel” has just been released and is available for purchase through First Presbyterian Church. Recorded by Dr. William F. Entriken and produced by Dr. Entriken and Mr. Glück, this CD highlights the many wonderful features of the exquisite instrument now gracing the Alexander Chapel.

Listen to samples (MP3):

From the CD notes and Glück New York Website: The jewel-box Tudor chapel comfortably seats about fifty people, its gilded plaster ceiling, oak-paneled walls, and slate floor providing a visual feast.Designed and tonally finished by Sebastian M. Glück, this amazing instrument occupies a footprint of only 34 x 120 inches. The pipework is fashioned of red oak, poplar, walnut, planed 50% tin, and flamed copper for the basses of the 8′ Dulciana which flank the main soundboard. The 16′ Double Dulciana utilizes free reeds in the manner of a 19th century French harmonium, with a seamless transition to the bottom octave. An unusual tonal feature is the 4/5′ Choral Bass, which when drawn with the 4′ and 2′ flutes, provides a horn-like, reedy cantus firmus voice. The organ’s pipework is unenclosed, but the keydesk features a balanced expression pedal for practice purposes.

CD is $15 and is available at the church office,
or you may call (212) 675-6150 to order your copy.
The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York 
12 West 12th Street
New York, New York 10011
Telephone: (212) 675-6150
Fax: (212) 675-8674

gluckorgan_5
Close-up of the flamed copper 8′ Dulciana

gluckorgan_0   gluckorgan_6
Courtesy of Sebastian M. Glück


gluckorgan_2
Dr. William F. Entriken at the console


gluckorgan_3


gluckorgan_4
Further Links
Glück New York Website
Dr. William F. Entriken
First Presbyterian Church

AGO 2002 Convention Displays

The exhibits at the convention were comprised of music dealers, organ builders, artist representatives and (too many) electronic organ companies. I hung around while everyone was setting up their displays. (This was not unlike any number of the techie conventions in Javits Center, just less noisy and a little less crowded).

Since size and weight would make it difficult to bring an entire pipe organ in for the show, most builders resorted to a display of a few pipes for demonstration purposes. One Canadian company (Casavant Freres) created a little model of a church:
casavantmodel_lg
Others raffled off pipes painted by Pennsylvania Dutch folk artists:
paintedpipes_lg

But the German company Oberlinger Orgelbau brought an entire organ to the show! They put it together on the spot.

Pictures of the Lively-Fulcher organ at Salt Lake City, Utah

Lively-Fulcher organ at University of Utah, Gardner Concert Hall

Organ Specification at the Osiris Archive

The new Lively-Fulcher pipe organ built for the Gardner Concert Hall on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City was installed and completed by May 2000. The instrument has 58 speaking stops playable over five divisions, Grand Orgue, Recit Expressif, Positif Expressif, Bombarde and Pedale. The three manual and pedal key actions are mechanical while the stop action is electric complete with state of the art combination action and 256 levels of memory. The wind supply is regulated by a traditional bellows system linked to the wind chests by wind lines constructed of wood. The console is attached to the main organ case in center position and has natural keys covered in bone and sharp keys of solid ebony. The internal layout of the divisions within the case places the Positif Expressif centrally above the console and the Grand Orgue above that with the Recit Expressif behind the GO. The Bombarde is divided either side of the GO with the Pedal division also divided either side the manuals and behind the 16-foot Pedal towers in the case.

The casework design, constructed of natural curly figured Cherry wood, takes its inspiration from the contemporary accents associated with this room yet with a firm traditional footing found as the basis for the Gardner Hall architecture. The ‘stepped’ feature in the case follows the same theme from the ceiling and walls of the Hall and the traditional towers take their cue from the more traditional ‘coffin’ like shape of the room. The façade pipes are of 72% tin and include pipes from the GO Montre 16′, Montre 8′ and Pedal Montre 8′. The pipe shades are formed with a two layered geometric design showing the front layer in gold and the back in contrasting green. The design includes two Sego Lily motif’s (Utah State flower) depicted in the Positif case forging a firm link between the organ case and Utah University. The organ is completely housed within its own freestanding casework and is positioned at the front of the Hall above the orchestra stage and behind the choir seating. The Hall’s warm and generous 4.5-second acoustic can be regulated in infinite degrees to 1.5 seconds reverberation time which offers the University a remarkable and optimum setting for performance of all types of music.

The tonal inspiration for the instrument is firmly based in 19th century France but is designed and voiced with a broad literature base in mind due to the varied use that the organ will need to respond to at this modern University. The Tutti is voiced to balance a full symphony orchestra for organ concerti and symphonic literature alike but includes two enclosed divisions with a good variety of soft colors so necessary for the accompaniment of solo voices and other instruments. The warm yet clear polyphonic competence of broadly scaled principal chorus work carefully blended with the sonorous mutations and reed colors associated with Cliquot and Cavaille-Coll make for an exceptionally versatile medium for the main body of the organ literature today. The broad foundation tone of the 8-foot stops and thick walled expressiveness of the Recit and Positif boxes ensure the accompanimental versatility so necessary for the performance of the choral literature and much more besides. The careful voicing and blending of individual stops coupled with the balancing and color requirements so important to specific areas of the French, German and English literature ensure a convincing performance of the wide body of literature that is expected from concert organs of today.

© Paul Fulcher and Mark Lively
Lively-Fulcher Pipe Organ Builders

Images, © Paul Fulcher and Mark Lively

Fifth Annual Guilmant Organ Recital Series at First Presbyterian Church, NYC

In February and March, the fifth annual Guilmant Organ Recital Series will be presented at First Presbyterian Church. This recital series is given in recognition of the Guilmant Organ School, which opened its doors at First Presbyterian Church in October of 1899 and was the first accredited school in America to offer diplomas in Organ Performance and Sacred Music. This innovative and successful school, which was founded before many of today’s American music conservatories, gave musicians the opportunity to study with major international artists in America without having to travel abroad. Students came from all over the country and many major organ recitals were presented during this time. The Guilmant School moved from First Presbyterian Church in the early 1960s.

All recitals are on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. and will last approximately one hour and are followed by a reception. A freewill offering will be received.

February 6 at 4:00 p.m.
ANTHONY PINEL, Organist
Works by Saint-Saëns, Bach, Parry, Guilmant

Anthony Pinel is Director of Music and Organist of St. Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey. A native of England, Mr. Pinel is a graduate of Huddersfield and has served as Assistant Organist at Bristol Cathedral and Director of Music and Organist at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. Recent recitals have included The Riverside Church, Princeton University Chapel, St. Mary the Virgin, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston.

February 13 at 4:00 p.m.
MARK BANI, Organist
Works by Bach, Franck, Reubke

Mark Bani is the music director and organist at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer here in New York City. He holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and from the Juilliard School. He has been heard on National Public Radio, both Pipedreams, and most recently, on Morning Edition. Mark Bani has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards including first place winner of the New York City chapter National Young Artitsts’ Competition.

March 6 at 4:00 pm
WILLIAM ENTRIKEN, Organist
Works by Bach, Schumann, Guilmant, Dupré

William Entriken is Organist and Choirmaster at The First Presbyterian Church and founder of the Guilmant Organ Recital Series. In addition, Dr. Entriken is also Associate Adjunct Professor of Organ at New York University. Last fall, his recording of the new Rees Jones Memorial Pipe Organ in church’s Alexander Chapel was released.

Read the history of the Guilmant Organ School at First Presbyterian Church

Church Contact Details:
First Presbyterian Church
12 W 12 Street
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (212) 675-6150 Fax: (212) 675-8674
http://www.firstpresnyc.org