Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sneak preview of Jonathan Ryan in concert

Right here in Lincoln, on Monday, September 19th, at 7:30pm, Jonathan Ryan will perform at O'Donnell Auditorium at Wesleyan University. From an 8-year-old in awe of the organ to the First Prize winner of international and national organ competitions, Ryan has loved the great instrument.
For $15, anyone can enjoy a wonderful performance accompanied by detailed program notes so that you not only hear the music, but really understand what it means.
Here is a sneak preview of the program and program notes from Ryan:
· I will open with one of my very favorite pieces of music in the world: the Sinfonia from Cantata 29 by J.S. Bach, one of the most energetic, vivacious musical celebrations of life I've ever heard.
· We'll continue with a set of delightful late Renaissance dance variations by the then-equivalent of a Dutch rock star, Jan Sweelinck, and the sublime Trio Sonata No. 4 in E Minor by J.S. Bach, a work particularly known for its transcendent, beautiful middle movement.
· Two English selections will close the first half: a serene free-work inspired from a Psalm verse by George Oldroyd, and the dramatic, profound Rhapsody in C-sharp Minor written during a sleepless night amid a WWI air raid by perhaps England's most celebrated 20th-century composer Herbert Howells.
· The second half begins with one of our own country's finest, Calvin Hampton, a New York City organist and choirmaster, with two movements from his work Five Dances. Based on a rhythmic ostinato, they showcase Hampton's unique, and, I think, enticing, musical voice.
· A rarely performed truly extraordinary piece by György Ligeti follows: the Etude coulée. Written in 1969, it could hardly be a more virtuosic test of technique as its 3.5 minutes require the organist to play nearly 13 notes per second in each hand without ceasing. Minimalistic in character, it also creates a rather intriguing mesh of musical color that, in my experience, has never failed to captivate audiences.
· I enjoy including organ pieces by the legendary jazz pianist George Shearing, and we will have two selections from him based on early American hymn tunes after the Ligeti.
· The "main course" of the second half, however, constitutes one of the most sublime major organ works from the 20th-century, the Prelude, Adagio, and Chorale Variations on Veni Creator by the Parisian organist-composer Maurice Duruflé. It is truly a masterwork, and, to me, a profound journey. Despite its advanced technical difficulty, it's one of the most emotional and deeply satisfying works I've ever played.
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