Who are Cornell’s organ students? Part I Graduate student Matthew Hall: Home-made Clavichords, Grandma’s cookies, and the Cornell Baroque Organ
This Friday evening, February 5th, two of Cornell’s advanced organ students, Matthew Hall and Jonathan Schakel, will give a clavichord recital in the salon-style environment of the A. D. White house. They’ll be playing music by Johann Sebastian and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach on a clavichord that Matthew himself has recently built. The evening promises to offer an intimate glimpse into 18th-century private music-making, on the instrument praised especially by members of the Bach family (and their followers) as the ultimate vehicle for musical expression. I asked Matthew recently about organs and clavichords, about combining performance with scholarship, and about why he chose Cornell as the place to work for a Ph. D. in musicology.
Spring 2016 recital series begins: Bach (and others) on the Baroque Organ
The spring line-up of organ recitals and recitalists at Cornell is as wide-ranging as ever. The series begins on Saturday, January 30 at 8pm with University Organist Annette Richards on the Baroque organ in Anabel Taylor Chapel. Her program includes masterpieces by J.S. Bach alongside the works of the Dutch and German masters Bach himself admired and studied.
"The Orchestral Organ": a recital by Matthew Hall
In the early 18th century, J. S. Bach and his contemporaries explored the way the organ, the "Instrument of Instruments" was a great ensemble unto itself, a one-man orchestra on which organists could play Vivaldi concertos, Corelli chamber sonatas, or verbatim transcriptions of cantata movements for solo voice with obbligato accompaniment. On Friday, October 2nd, at 8:00 PM organist, harpsichordist and Ph. D. candidate in musicology Matthew Hall will take his lead from those earlier organists and, inspired by the Anabel Taylor organ, will create a program largely made up of his own arrangements and transcriptions. Music-making of this kind, which involves knowledge, skill and nerve –a willingness to react to the instrument and to the audience, to improvise and, perhaps even, to bluff a little –is crucial to the organist's art. As Matthew writes in his program notes (read on!), the instrument itself is crucial, and the Cornell Baroque organ could provide no better tool, yet the organist, doing her job wherever it takes her, must be able to make music on much more humble machines;and what matters is that the music, even the works of those great (long-dead) Baroque composers be live, alive, lively: for Matthew "Their music is not the goal but a starting point for me to make music like them, to make music like theirs."