Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Franckly speaking: summer concert series

Dear Friends,

I am so thrilled to be announcing this July's recital series at St. Paul's Cathedral. At a time when many organizations are slowing down for summer vacation, we are so happy to be filling in the gap with beautiful music on the newly-restored Quimby pipe organ. This coming month we will be hosting three successive Sunday evening recitals: Bob Plimpton on July 7th; Nicholas Halbert on July 14th; and Martin Green on July 21st. All of the recitals will be composed solely of works from the oeuvre of Cesar Franck, and cumulatively we will perform nine of his twelve major works.

The decision to perform an all-Franck series was not a difficult one to make. There is no doubt that the Frenchman's works sound lovely on the lush and full timbres of the Quimby, complemented by the French-style fiery reed choruses. This is a case where instrument and composer are perfectly suited to one another. But in addition to that, his music is some of the most intense, dramatic, and moving ever written for the organ. His style ranges from hushed intimacy to full-blooded exultation in a way that few composers have mastered. And, he is the father of the modern French organ school- this series gives us the opportunity to examine his work more completely and will also be revelatory in showing the way he shaped French style from Vierne to Langlais and Messiaen to French organists writing today.

Bob Plimpton, Organist at FUMCSD, will present two of Franck's largest works, the Fantasie in A and Piece Symphonique; both of these works are full of the dramatic qualities that Franck came to be known for, and promise to make for an incredibly thrilling program. Nicholas Halbert, graduating Organ Scholar at the Cathedral, will present the Chorale No. 1 in E Major, the Prelude, Fugue and Variation, and the Chorale No. 3 in a minor. The two chorales are some of Franck's last works, and represent him at the pinnacle of his ability; they will be complimented by the middle work as a sort of autumnal intermezzo. The final concert, played by Martin Green, Canon for Music at the Cathedral, will consist of a selection of Franck's middle, shorter works, each of which is astonishing in its ability to create powerful and evocative sound-worlds in compact pieces: The Piece Heroique, Cantabile, Pastorale, and the grand Final. All of these concerts promise to be profound and moving experiences for devotees of this seminal composer.

Each will occur following Evensong on Sunday nights, at 5:45. We invite you to join us for our evening service of prayer and music at 5 to prepare yourself spiritually for the music to follow. Over the summer our Cathedral Schola sings largely a capella services with motets ranging from Byrd to Rheinberger.

Please join us!

Nicholas Halbert
Organ Scholar

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