Friday, October 14, 2011

Kraig Scott to perform 'Basically Brahms'

On Sunday, October 16, the Lincoln Organ Showcase (LOS) presents Kraig Scott in concert at 3:00pm on the organ in the College View Seventh Day Adventist Church. A few weeks ago, the LOS hosted the performance ofJonathan Ryan, and this is the second performance of the season. Tickets are $15 at the door, but under 18 is free!
Kraig Scott, professor of organ at Walla Walla University, has performed in many states and at least ten countries from South Korea to Scotland. According to his biography at the WWU website, “Scott’s responsibilities at WWU include conducting the University choirs, teaching organ and harpsichord students, serving as church organist, and overseeing all music at the University Church. In addition to these duties, Scott is an adjunct professor at Whitman College and director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.”
Basically Brahms
For the performance in Lincoln, Scott will be presenting “Basically Brahms” and shared a few thoughts in an exclusive interview for title of this performance, Scott explained came about in “a very personal way.” After a colleague at WWU passed away last summer, “her husband wanted lots of Brahms at her service. I ended up rearranging some of the Requiem for solo voice and organ accompaniment and learning most of the Brahms chorale preludes.”
In preparing Brahms for the funeral of his colleague, Scott says he was “reminded of the great beauty and intensity of this music,” and thus “decided it would make a great recital to program all of the Brahms chorale preludes.” Scott is also giving us a glimpse of Brahms early and late compositions since “he is one of those composers whose last musical thoughts were for the organ (like J.S. Bach and Cesar Franck, for instance).” However, Scott points out, “Brahms wrote for organ very early in his life and at the very, very end of his compositional output. So the program will feature very early Brahms and very mature Brahms.”
Included on the “Basically Brahms” program is a work by English composer Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. “Parry longed to travel to Germany to study with Brahms, but this dream never materialized. I like the connection however, and hear a connection between their compositional styles. So we begin with a Prelude and Fugue by Brahms and end with a Fantasia and Fugue by Parry.”
Comfort, memories, and light bulbs
When asked what he hopes the audience will take away from his performance on Sunday, Scott said he hopes that they will experience “the comfort and love that, I believe, Brahms wanted to communicate in his chorale preludes. Musicologists have spilled a lot of ink arguing about the nature of Brahms’ spiritual experience. I cannot say for sure what he thought of organized religion or whether his beliefs were orthodox. But I have no doubt that he believed in a divine higher power and that he found comfort, love, and strength in that belief which he in turn sought to communicate through his compositions.” Basically, Scott wants his audience to have a truly musical experience, one that is spiritually and emotionally moving.
He also shared some of his own memories. “Favorite memories? The impact of the locations of organs I have had the privilege to play. For instance, the medieval glory of the 900-year-old Dunblane Cathedral; the many staircases leading up to the organ lofts of North German churches in places like Hamburg, Lubeck, Norden, and Lüneburg; and the crow’s nest view from the organ of a large Spanish church in La Selva del Camp.”
But it is in teaching organ that Scott gets to see the “light bulb” come on. He said, “I love seeing the light bulb come on when a student begins to understand how to make music on the organ,” and went on to explain, “the organ can’t inflect dynamics, but I remind students that all art is, in a sense, illusion and miracle. When we see a picture that depicts a landscape, we actually see depth... but that’s an illusion because the canvas is flat. Through vanishing point perspective, we have a miracle of depth in a picture. The same thing happens in all music. The fact that an organ cannot inflect dynamics means there is more room for miracles. It’s a very exciting thing to see a student come alive to that fact.”
This Sunday, a Lincoln audience will be treated to the miracle of organ music with “Basically Brahms.”
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