Spring 2013 Organ Recital Series Begins

The Spring 2013 organ concert series begins this week with the first Midday Music for Organ recital on Wednesday January 30th at 12:30pm. University Organist Annette Richards presents a program of music that might have been heard at the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin, c. 1755, with works by Dieterich Buxtehude, C. P. E. Bach, J. S. Bach and the King’s sister, avid organ enthusiast and music collector Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia. As a portrait of the remarkable Arp Schnitger-style organ in Anabel Taylor chapel, Professor Richards is preparing to make a CD recording of music from the library of Princess Anna Amalia, a collection that included music stretching back to the great German and Italian works of the 17th century, and forward to the most modern works of her own era in the mid 18th century, including Amalia’s own composition exercises. The Anabel organ is modeled on an instrument in one of the Berlin palaces in which Amalia grew up, and its sound-world is ideal for the organ music Amalia loved and went to great trouble to acquire.

For the rest of this semester’s organ offerings, there is much to look forward to. In February the Midday Music series moves to Sage Chapel, for a program of 19th-century French music on the Aeolian Skinner organ performed by Annette Richards (February 20th), and then on February 27th, a recital by guest organist Jeffrey Snedeker on the 18th-century Italian organ, featuring works by Frescobaldi, Froberger and Steigleder. In March, the recitals return to Anabel Taylor, and to 18th-century France, to hear the courtly charms of Francois Couperin’s organ mass ‘for the Convents’, performed by graduate student Erica Levenson (March 13). From Paris we move to Dresden, for David Yearsley’s performance on April 10th which reimagines the legendary encounter of the great performer-composers Froberger and Weckman at the Dresden court, c. 1655. As the end of the semester nears, we can look forward to hearing graduate student Carlos Ramirez performing a program of medieval and renaissance song intabulations on the Italian organ in Sage (April 24), followed by a recital conceived around J. S. Bach’s “Orgelbuchlein” and performed by this semester’s undergraduate organ students (May 8).

The lunchtime offerings are complemented by three evening recitals this semester. In a mini-festival in early March both the Aeolian-Skinner and the Anabel organs will be put through their paces: Annette Richards will perform a program of French 19th- and 20th-century music on Tuesday, March 5th, including music by Cesar Franck, Jehan Alain and Maurice Durufle and on Sunday March 10th we’ll hear virtuoso guest organist Jonathan Biggers play in both Anabel and Sage, his performance demonstrating his mastery of both the baroque repertoire and the 19th-century extravagance of Leo Sowerby and Max Reger. Finally, on Thursday April 18 at 8pm, David Yearsley performs a program in Anabel Taylor that replays three famous organ encounters in the city of Dresden the contests between Froberger and Weckmann in the 17th century, between Hassler and Mozart at the end of the 18th, and the near-meeting of Marchand and J. S. Bach in the 1720s.

New this semester, audience members at the Midday Music recitals are invited to visit the organ loft at the end of the program to get a behind-the-scenes view of the instruments and the music played on them. For more information, please contact University Organist Annette Richards (ar34@cornell.edu) or the Cornell music department.