Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4th of July Musical Celebrations - Dick Hyman and "America The Beautiful"

It's getting close to the 4th of July holiday and we have tons of great music to help you celebrate!

The first recording we want to highlight is "America the Beautiful" featuring Jazz legend Dick Hyman and Ruby Braff!

America, the Beautiful
Ruby Braff, cornet
Dick Hyman, Wurlitzer Theatre Organ

Jazz keyboard great Dick Hyman takes a spin at the Wurlizer organ in this unusual recording. Originally from the Prospect Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, the organ was rescued, relocated, and restored by the Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society in 1974. Live performance given in 1982.

When It's Sleepy Time Down South
When My Sugar Walks Down The Street
When I Fall In Love
As Long As I Live
America The Beautiful
Louisiana; High Society
I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time
I Ain?t Got Nobody
This Is All I Ask
The Yankee Doodle Boy
If Dreams Come True
I'm Confessin' That I Love You
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
Duke Ellington Medley: Don't Get Around Much Anymore / I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart
Muskrat Ramble

Purchase "America the Beautiful" directly from The Gothic Catalog and Save!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Catching Up With Jonathan Dimmock!

This past Sunday, we featured Jonathan Dimmock on The Organ Loft. So today we took a look at what this phenomenal artist has been up to!

Sunday, June 6, Jonathan Dimmock was featured on artist Sarah Cahill's NPR program "Then and Now" on San Fransisco's local KALW Radio. And it wasn't just his music, it was a full live interview as well!

On June 10th, his ensemble AVE performed and received an outstanding review in the San Fransisco Classical Voice! Here's a quote from that review (find the rest at

Crafting an expert Gesualdo performance is no mean feat. In addition to the technical demands of mastering this difficult music, the conductor and singers need to internalize its emotional content and convey it effectively to the audience. “I always try to put myself in the shoes of the audience. I think a concert should be educational, uplifting, fun, stimulating, and contemplative,” Dimmock says. “Above all, it is the responsibility of the choir and me to communicate. Music without passion is merely an exercise; and very little music of the Renaissance can match the passion of Gesualdo. So we have a tall task — not the least because this music is well-known by many people. We’re aware that the expectations will be extremely high.”

Dimmock also finds great value for modern listeners in entering the sound world of this unique composer, even if the original liturgical context can’t be recaptured. “We can find in this music a solace that can only come from extreme honesty and the desire for release from intense pain,” he says. “This music doesn’t represent a single cathartic moment in the composer’s life, nor in ours as listeners, but rather the fruit resulting from months, or even years, of spiritual introspection and self-scrutiny. This is music for contemplatives. As listeners today, you, too, are being issued an invitation to find beauty even in areas of pain and suffering.”

Also, Jonathan Dimmock and AVE both have Facebook Pages so we encourage you to give them both a "Like" and keep up with this fantastic artist! We know we will!

Here's a piece from Jonathan Dimmock's latest release on Loft Recordings - "Mendelssohn Organ Sonatas"

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Organ Loft - Vater Unser im Himmelreich

The Organ Loft - June 27, 2010
Vater Unser im Himmelreich
Webcast and Broadcast Schedule

Program:Vater Unser im Himmelreich (Click "play" for promo)

1. Patricia van Ness: My Heart is a Holy Place

2. Maurice Duruflé: Prélude et fugue sur le nom d’A.L.A.I.N., Op. 7

3. Morten Lauridsen: Ubi Caritas

4. Toon Hagen:Vater unser im Himmelreich

5. Felix Mendelssohn: Sonata 6, opus 65 5

Recordings Used: (Click links to purchase these recordings)

1. “From the Heart” The King’s Singers, Signum SIGCD177
2. “Maurice Duruflé: Sacred Choral Works – Organ Works, Volume 1” Eric Lebrun, organ; Naxos 8.553196
3. “Sounds of Light” The Trinity Choir, Trinity Church, Boston, Brian Jones, director; Gothic G-49245
4. “Thomsen Chapel Inaugural Recitals” Roger Sherman, organ; reZound RZCD-5012
5. “Mendelssohn: Organ Sonatas” Jonathan Dimmock, organ; Loft LRCD-1112

Find the Broadcasts online from:

KING-FM Seattle's Classical Choice — Sundays at 10:00 PM


OREGON: KWAX-FM and the University of Oregon radio network — Sundays at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Viaticum/Robert Bates Reviews and Interview

Yesterday we introduced you to the Robert Bates album "Viaticum" which consists of his original compositions. So today we thought we would share some reviews of this album as well as an interview with Robert Bates!

Here is a remarkable concert of organ music of the 20th century, in which not a single work suffers from the faults that generally weigh on contemporary music… This selection lets us hear the best of what is being written for organ in recent years. And I include the pieces by Bates himself, whether for solo organ or organ accompanied by synthesizer or pre-recorded organ; it is music that can be listened to again and again with real pleasure verging on the spellbinding.

Bates as a player also deserves plenty of compliments: he plays clearly, precisely, and not without emotion…”

- “Magazine Orgue” (Belgium)

Viaticum is a recording for organ and narrator, featuring 20th century organ works by Arvo Pärt, Jean Guillou, György Ligeti, Joan Tower, Calvin Hampton, and original works by Robert Bates. The 3-CD set is organized into three programs, describing the life and death journeys of the body, mind and soul. Recorded with 24-bit technology at Stanford Memorial Church, Viaticum utilizes the two organs in the rear gallery (Fisk, 1984 and Murray Harris, 1901), in ensemble with electronic instruments on some pieces. This unusual recording is a sonic spectacular, and presents the organ as it is rarely heard, with an unusual repertoire. Many pieces are recorded here for the first time. For additional information, read the Fanfare reviews (below).”

"Bates is obviously a highly accomplished performer, as one would expect from an organist in such demand. The clarity of his articulation is immaculate, and his choice of the two fine organs at the Stanford Memorial Church was inspired, as both record beautifully."
-BY DAVID DENTON Fanfare Magazine

A View from the Organ Loft: An Interview with Robert Bates

BY DAVID DENTON Fanfare Magazine

"Travel with me and I will supply the Viaticum, the provisions for your journey." This is the opening line of a new trilogy of words and music, Viaticum, by organist and composer Robert Bates, newly recorded and just released on the Loft Recordings label. Extending to almost three hours, the work takes the listener on three separate pilgrimages, each exploring the nature of the universe through the thoughts of philosophers, scientists, and clerics. With so much research having been necessary to collate the intricate details involved in the text, I asked Bates how long he had been involved in creating the work. "Most of it results from reading over the years, and particularly my interest in books on philosophy and modern science. The problem came the other way around, and I had to whittle my original wording down to a length that would balance with the musical content. The work originated with the contents of the third disc, Life after Life, and it was the favorable response to that section in a concert performance that prompted me to extend it to three parts." At that juncture the work had no name, Viaticum, the Latin word for "provisions for a journey," seeming very appropriate once the score had been completed. That third part deals with religion and the traditional journey to everlasting life for those fortunate enough to achieve celestial bliss. Is this the concept of death that Bates believes in? "I have to say that I am not a religious person in the strict sense of the word. I am a person who relates more to philosophy, and the answer to your question is: I don't really know."

Bates was educated at Wayne State University and Southern Methodist University, before moving to France to continue his organ studies with Marie-Claire Alain and improvisation with Daniel Roth. His return to the States took him to Stanford University, where he graduated in musicology, with the emphasis on performing practices and history of music theory. Today he is associate professor of organ and university organist at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. "When I left northern California exactly one year ago to come to Houston, I discovered that housing was one-third to one-half the price here as it was there! I was able to buy a wonderful and unusual house in an old Victorian-era section of Houston called the Heights. The name comes from the fact that the area is 20 feet higher than the rest of Houston, so it doesn't flood as often during our famous storms. What we have is a brand-new home made to look like an 1880s firehouse. People come in and say things like, "This is the best restoration I've ever seen"; you should see their faces when I tell them it is 100% new! Best part is that the ceilings are high enough for my very tall Mason and Hamlin reed organ, built around the same time as most of the neighborhood. Houston is a marvelous place for the performing arts, which are very much alive here. People take pride in the arts and are amazingly knowledgeable about them, and those with money give support through museums, opera, education, etc."

During his student days Bates garnered an enviable collection of competition successes, including the Los Angeles prize in 1976, his return there 17 years later as a judge being a particularly happy memory. As a concert organist he was soon in demand around North America and Europe, and it was for a 1998 concert at the Redlands Organ Festival in Southern California that Life after Life had its world premiere. The program was successfully repeated at many venues, and the idea for a much more extensive work took shape. I asked, "Was that inspiration started by the words or the music?" "The whole thing rather evolved, previous music that I had composed suggested the text, and at other times I composed music specifically as a response to an idea from the words. There became an interaction between the two, and at first I just intended adding one further section, and that grew to the idea of three journeys. I hope that the whole will be a journey that will help people to understand more about life."

Though Bates has used the words and thoughts of great philosophers and scientists, in selecting those words there is inevitably a personal input of the ideas and ideals that appear important to Bates. I wanted to return to the third part of Viaticum, which, as a person still searching for a religion, I found the most difficult to accept. "Even if religion were only an invention of humanity," urges Bates, "you can still learn a lot from it without actually believing in it. We can read about mythology and not believe one word of it, but it can still speak to us and help us understand ourselves." I accept his theory, though, on a lighter note, I am not quite sure how that willingness to expose his thought process squares up to his response to "pop" music. "People say that I would like it if I just knew more about it and listened more. But I doubt it. One simply can't avoid lots of exposure to pop music at this time in our history. Jazz I enjoy, but I know little about it. I don't think that it has had much influence on my own music. People from outside the US often assume Americans know all about jazz, but more often than not we don't. I do love some folk music when I hear it-Balinese, Indian, Thai, for example-but I'm certainly no ethnomusicologist. On the other hand, there are obvious influences from the music of other cultures to be found in my own music, mostly via Western composers such as Olivier Messiaen and Jehan Alain, and partly through my personal preferences for scales that have an "exotic" sound. And now that I think of it, I guess I tend to play pieces by other composers that are a bit exotic sounding." His choice of music by other composers for Viaticum certainly shows a very wide taste, with Arvo Pärt, Jean Guillou, György Ligeti, Joan Tower, and Calvin Hampton among the eight composers represented. In total they supply the bulk of the music, though the eight works by Bates are the largest single contribution. Many of his scores include parts for synthesizer and prerecorded organ. "Organists can be rather conservative, and we need a little more invention to our approach. I became involved in computers at Stanford University when I seemed to be surrounded by computer engineers. There is quite a big department at Stanford in the field of electronic music, and that technology is now with us, and ours to use. If we can harness it and use it to good taste in music that we believe in, we can expand the traditions of music. If we don't, others will, and that use may not be to the benefit of classical music. I have used synthesizers with organ, prerecorded tape to layer on top of the organ texture, and generally experimented with the sonorities that are possible. I don't know of other organists who are working in this field, though I am sure there must be a parallel elsewhere. I admit I am not a fan of electronic organs, but what will happen to organs in the future we don't know, so you have to keep an open mind."

In Viaticum Bates also examines the use of visual aids to communicate with the audience. This is not a visual presentation of notes, but a picture, similar to a graph, plotting the movement of the music, and, whether you are a musician or not, you can follow the progress of the work. "The spoken text will create a visual image of the music in the listener's mind. That was one objective. Then they can follow the images drawn out. I find people who know about music are intrigued at the idea, and nonmusicians are surprised that they can follow the music in this manner. It is something that I will now take further." Packaged with the three discs come these graphic "scores" for three of the works, Orpheus and the Winged Creatures, Charon's Oar, and Hades' Realm. "I would say that in the United States the organ itself is not very fashionable, so that any aid to draw people into the performance is a plus. We live in a visual era, where images constantly flash before us, and I find that a lot of people simply do not like sitting and simply listening to music, yet they do enjoy a visual stimulus."

Listening to the works by Bates you would hardly guess the name of his favorite composer. "I like many early composers, such as the great Dietrich Buxtehude, who was such an influence on Bach; the early Spanish composers-Correa de Arauxo is my favorite; early French composers such as François Couperin, and a number of living composers, especially Arvo Pärt. The greatest composer of organ music in the 20th century is clearly Olivier Messiaen, so I play much of his music. Some performers will happily play anything that comes along. I can't afford the time to play everything. But Bach is so far in the lead that it hardly makes sense to mention others. My own music-well, I know it does not sound much like Bach-has taken one major thing from him. You can listen to Bach on many levels. You can just sit and enjoy one of his big organ Toccata and Fugues without knowing anything about the music, or you can investigate every strand as a musicologist. I am not saying my music is in that caliber, but I like to work in several layers, so that it can hold your attention and you can discover more on repeated hearing. I also try to capture that inner logic in Bach's writing. So to that extent there is a similarity."

For Viaticum Bates has used the two organs at the Stanford Memorial Church, and, in common with every organist, he has his favorite instruments. "I do love those two, but I just played for the national convention of the American Guild of Organists on a beautiful new organ built by Paul Fritts at the Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Historic French and German organs always interest me, and those in Mexico from the 17th century have become a new area of fascination. I sometimes get the feeling during a concert that I'm playing my absolute all-time favorite; the feeling may only last for the duration of the recital, but that is enough. The question is a bit like another I have often been asked: "What is your favorite Bach work?" The answer, of course, is "The one I am playing at the moment." But, on the other hand, it is difficult to feel inspired by a bad organ-and there are far too many of those in this world. In the States we have some marvelous organs being built. I don't think the quality has ever been better, and the level of playing is now very high. But we have been through a period when the number of musicians going into the profession had slumped dramatically, and performers and audiences seemed to lose interest, and you could go to recitals with only 10 or 20 people in the audience. Now we are beginning to hear more organ records on the radio, so that will have a major effect."

That takes us conveniently back to Loft Recordings, the originator of the label, Roger Sherman, a distinguished organist in his own right, having been prompted to start commercial recordings after running the record program The Organ Loft, on the Seattle radio station KING-FM. Starting out with private recordings for broadcast purposes, Sherman found considerable listener interest in the music he was playing over the radio. From little acorns great oak trees grow, goes the saying, and having recorded organ discs for sale in churches, Sherman ventured out in the mid 1990s with Loft Recordings. Today the label has over 30 discs available, Bates already represented by Daquin and the French Noel (LRCD 1004). He is also presently in the process of recording the complete works of Correa d'Arauxo (1583-1654), the first five volumes being played on the previously unrecorded 1690 organ at Oaxaca Cathedral in Mexico.

The entire series of Viaticum was first performed at Stanford University in the spring of 1999, and is Bates's most recent score, all of which involve the organ. "I have been asked to write a vocal work, and in my younger days I did take orchestration classes, though at present I feel most happy writing for the organ. I am presently working on a Book of Sonority, a group of pieces that will be based on one set of pitches and using the different sonorities of the organ to create the work. I suppose that appears a move towards Minimalism, but the intention is to restrict myself a bit more and to concentrate on the characters of each note. It is an abstract concept, and one that you can really only achieve on the organ." Composition still has to find its slot in a busy schedule of teaching and performing, Bates having recently returned from Poland, where he was surprised at the audience interest in organ concerts. "The problem for many in the States is the instinctive relationship they hold between the organ and religion. I would like it to be equally seen as an individual musical instrument." As he does not play any sport, and normally grabs a holiday on his overseas concert tours, how does he relax? "Well I love most Mediterranean food, though my favorites are Indian and Thai. I have developed a very strong liking for Cajun cuisine since arriving here in Houston. Many people, including most Americans, are not aware that Houston has a large Cajun population. They came here from Louisiana and brought their incredible cooking with them, with many spicy seafood dishes. Anyone who likes seafood and spices is bound to love Cajun food." And if he lived to be a centenarian, what reason would he give for his long life? "Good wine" was the short answer.

Robert Bates takes us on three journeys, through the mind, body, and soul. His intention is threefold: First there is the desire to leave listeners with a greater wisdom about themselves and the world around. Second is the hope that the combination of words and music will interact to stimulate our interest in both and, third, a wish that, through the narration and programmatic approach, organ music will become more accessible to a wide variety of people of all ages, especially those interested in new music. The words used in Viaticum are Bates's own, derived from an interest in reading books on philosophy and modern science. He has used them judiciously, the time scale of each section related to the music the words are intended to complement. That music has been sourced from the compositions of Arvo Pärt, Jean Guillou, György Ligeti, Jehan Alain, Jeanne Demessieux, Olivier Messiaen, Joan Tower, and Calvin Hampton. Each journey opens with a Prelude from Pärt's Trivium, with journey's end marked by a complete performance of the work. To these Bates has added eight of his own organ works, many enhanced by the use of synthesizer and prerecorded organ. The tracks taken from the works of other composer, such as Messiaen's "Les Oiseaux et les sources," from the Messe de la Pentecôte, are mostly well known, and were selected to illustrate the spoken text that precedes them. The works by Bates are here receiving their first recording, and we discover a modern musical voice that retains a melodic tonality yet is obviously fascinated by the vast range of sounds possible from the organ. His use of synthesizer is interesting in its augmentation of the keyboard, the most extensive score, Birthday Tribute, based on the name B-A-C-H, being a particularly beautiful creation. Here the synthesizer offers a myriad of percussion and harplike sonorities, the bass end of the organ often creating a dark quality below the tinkling sounds. The influence of Messiaen is always present, and I am sure the great French composer would have been delighted to have constructed such a totally fascinating work.

You can at times question some of the text, the third part, which takes on a journey from this world to the next, relating to the old religious edict that the good go one way and the bad the other. In my interview with the composer, he drew the admission from me that it had made me stop and think, despite my awkward relationship with religion. Like the old cliché "There is no bad publicity," the text does prompt a response, and in so doing has made me once again question my relationship with religion. I suspect it will do the same with others. In the booklet that accompanies the discs, Bates suggests that the thought process should continue far past the obvious. Viaticum is, for instance, full of numerology, but essentially based on the number three, and he suggests that we examine the work for further examples. Many believe that numerology plays an important part in life, and this use of the number three has shaped much that we hear on the disc.

To the more fundamental question "Will I like it?" I would give an enthusiastic yet guarded reply. From a performance point of view it is exemplary. Bates is obviously a highly accomplished performer, as one would expect from an organist in such demand. The clarity of his articulation is immaculate, and his choice of the two fine organs at the Stanford Memorial Church was inspired, as both record beautifully. My reservation is certainly not a personal one, but an expression of those people who find the spoken word on disc an experience they do not relish for repeated hearing, and prefer to have such words printed in an accompanying document. Here that would be totally counterproductive to the basic concept, for after reading them once, the listener would then simply listen to the disc as an organ recital. Fortunately, in Alan Wiemann we have a very pleasing voice as narrator, recorded in a believable perspective with the organ. As a totally perverted further observation, I hope that the music by Bates will not become confined to Viaticum, and will also enjoy a separate life. As I have already indicated, I find Birthday Tribute a very exciting composition, and I would equally commend to you Last Judgement, a score that occupies the same sound world. Indeed the music by Bates often overshadows that by the other illustrious composers, and maybe there will come a time when he decides to compose music for the complete Viaticum.

For enthusiasts of organ-builders, I would add that the two used here are the Fisk instrument installed in 1984, and the Murray M. Harris of 1901. The Fisk, with its four manuals, 73 ranks, and 4,432 pipes, can serve as an attractive Baroque organ, and, with its tuning, it can turn in a very authentic 17th-century French or German sound quality. The earlier instrument has undergone a number of renovations, not least a rebuild in 1981 following the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and now has 65 stops with 3,770 pipes. Both show their adaptability, the Fisk instrument being largely used for the Bates compositions.

Accompanying the three discs are two independent booklets, one of which is devoted to the graphic depiction of the works, which plays a key role in Bates's concept of sound and vision. They are interesting, and should prove a stimulus to nonmusicians. The other gives copious notes on the concept of Viaticum and on the music of Bates. There is a misprint in the timing shown in the booklet for the third disc, but otherwise the documentation is excellent. The sound quality is everything an organ buff would dream of-nicely distanced, wonderfully clear, and, above all, perfectly natural. Sherman has made the point that the synthesizer sounds were recorded together with the organ, and were not added later. The result is a realistic ambiance surrounding both "instruments." Those with an inquisitive mind should simply go out and buy this nicely boxed set, and if you still have reservations about the spoken word, try track 2 and I guess you will get hooked.

Purchase Viaticum by Robert Bates directly from The Gothic Catalog and save!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Viaticum - Robert Bates

We introduced this album to you when we were featuring Robert Bates (because of his recent recording session for our upcoming release up the complete works of Titelouze), but we felt that it warranted its own post.

Viaticum: A Journey of the Mind, Body and Soul
Robert Bates, organist & composer
Organs of Stanford Memorial Church

This unusual CD documents a tri-part program of 20th-century music, organized and composed by Robert Bates. It includes many world premier recordings (in red). With interspersed spoken texts and imaginative programming, Bates explores the nature of the world and ourselves, through verbal themes and non-verbal sound paintings. This is the most unusual organ recording in our collection, and it is a masterpiece of invention, symbolism and imagination.

Includes 24-page book on the music and organs used, plus a 16-page graphical audience score.

A Short Guide to Viaticum

Viaticum takes us on three journeys: of the mind, of the body, and of the soul. During each journey, we seek an answer to the same question, “What is the nature of the universe?” Three answers are given: one by the voice of philosophy, another by the voice of science, and the last by the voice of religion.

After a prelude to the first journey, the voice of philosophy responds to the question by guiding us through the teachings of the ancient Greek thinkers: 1) Phythagoras taught that the universe consists of numbers and ratios. 2) Heraclitus taught that all is measure and opposites are one. 3) The philosophers of Miletus taught that everything consists of a single substance, such as fire. 4) Democritus taught that the universe consists of tiny, indivisible atoms, surrounded by empty space. 5) Plato taught that the universe consists of Ideas or Forms. 6) Plotinus taught that beyond the universe of matter, there is also a trinity of Ideas, which we can experience by taking a “journey of the mind.” After we ascend through this trinity, however, we arrive at an Absolute, which can not be understood.

After a prelude to the second journey, the voice of science takes up the same question as it leads us through the evolution of the universe, stopping at various important points along the way: 1) When the universe first began to cool after the big bang. 2) When the galaxies and stars first formed and elements were propelled into space. 3) When the Earth formed and life came into being. 4) When life evolved in the seas. 5) When life moved onto the land and into the air. 6) And finally when the human species appeared on the Earth. Science then asks us to consider our future in space and the end of time itself. At this point, however, we again arrive at an Absolute that exceeds all human description. But science believes we shall someday understand this frontier, for everything ultimately is knowable because of an underlying “harmony of the universe.”

After a prelude to the third journey, the voice of religion offers its own response to the question as it leads us on a journey of the soul: 1) We begin with a funeral procession and descent to the world below. 2) We continue by following the soul as it crosses over the River Styx. 3)

Next we pass into Hades’ realm where the soul comes into the presence of terrifying beings. 4) We then accompany the soul as it experiences its final judgment. 5) We follow as it ascends through the layers of the cosmos. 6) Finally, we join the soul as it encounters the Absolute, which again surpasses all human understanding. Viaticum concludes when our three journeys intersect at a common ground, which the Romans called a “Trivium.”

Special Features

In addition to the very concept itself, Viaticum has a number of unusual features. These include: a narration that alternates with organ pieces, music with accompanying visual scores, duets for organ and synthesizer, duets for organ and pre-recorded organ, and experimental works in which the organ is purposely “denatured.”

Viaticum is also full of numerology. In particular, there are many references to the number three embedded in its structure. It would perhaps be a shame to mention them all, since much of the fun of numerology comes from discovering examples for oneself. Nevertheless, a few examples here will get you started! Viaticum contains 21 compositions (2+1 = 3 and 3*3*3*3*3*3*3 = 21). There are three pieces with accompanying audience scores. The total number of composers represented in the series is nine (3+3+3), and nine compositions are recorded for the first time. Each journey is structured according to the number three or contains an explicit reference to it: The first concludes with an ascent through a trinity of Ideas. The second is a journey through time, progressing from the moment immediately after the big bang (the past), climaxing with the human species (the present), and concluding with the big crunch at the end of time (the future). The third journey takes place on three planes: here on Earth, down below in Hades, and high above in the presence of the Absolute. Finally, although the term “Viaticum” is mentioned at the beginning of each of the three journeys, a full description comes only once: as an introduction to the third piece of the third journey.

CD Booklet contains extensive additional articles on the music, the two organs used and their stoplists, and artist biographies.

Quick review thoughts on Robert Bates' compositions:
"[Bates' composition] had the graphic richness of stained glass in its visual presentation. It was as exciting as any traditional organ piece, made even more tantalizing by short quotes from Bach's 'St. Anne' Fugue!" -The Diapason
"Bates' [new composition] was impressive to both eye and ear....Among its attractions was the pleasure of 'tracking' Bates' performance as it unfolded via the elaborate graphic representations provided to the audience." -Early Keyboard Studies Newsletter "

Save when you purchase direct from The Gothic Catalog - Click Here!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Amazing Dan Locklair!

Dan Locklair's music will be the highlight of the Organ Historical Society's 2010 National Convention concert on Wednesday night. This is a major honor, and will be wonderful exposure for this great composer. We're very excited that his piece "Glory and Peace" will be performed by the organist Thomas Murray at Harbison Chapel of Grove City College. (Click here for performance information)

Glory and Peace (2008) is a suite of seven reflections for organ, inspired by George Herbett's poem King of Glory, King of Peace. It was commissioned by the Anglican Musicians Foundation, the Los Angeles Conference Committee and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and was premiered by Thomas Murray in June 2009 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as a part of the 2009 National Conference of the Anglican Association of Musicians (AAM). Hear excerpts of the work on Dan Locklair's Website.

Loft Recordings recently issued The Music of Dan Locklair (LRCD-1110) featuring organist Marilyn Keiser. Here is a review of The Aeolian Sonata featured on the album from "Church Music Quarterly - March 2009":

My pick of this handsomely presented crop is the Aeolian Sonata whose three contrasting movements are a fine showcase for Locklair's talents. The first, 'Aus tiefer Not', is granitic and relentless, and offers more chromatic writing than is usual (I was reminded of Howells's early Psalm Preludes); 'Shalom (Peace)' is a pretty and largely tonal elegy in the manner of Langlais's Chant de Paix; and 'Laudate Dominum' is an exuberant toccata that manages to show both drama and charm. As a whole, the sonata lasts about twelve minutes; each movement would make a good voluntary. - Huw Morg

Get "The Music of Dan Locklair" directly from The Gothic Catalog and save!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Robert Bates Plays Titelouze

After all we've shared here on the blog about our recording project in Bolbec, France, we can't believe we didn't share the video we uploaded onto YouTube of Robert Bates playing a hymn-verse by Titelouze on the 1630 organ! Today we're remedying that, and posting it, so make sure to watch and share this exciting video and project information with your fellow organ and musicology enthusiasts!

Video taken on location by our very own Roger Sherman!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Organ Loft - Martin Jean at St. Mark's/Tudor Choir

The Organ Loft - June 13, 2010
Martin Jean at St. Mark's/Tudor Choir
Webcast and Broadcast Schedule

Program: Martin Jean at St. Mark's/Tudor Choir
  1. J.S. Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 5821
  2. Ralph Vaughn Williams, arr. Brian Judge: “He that is down need fear no fall”2
  3. Vaughn Williams, arr. Allen Percival: The Call2
  4. John Rutter: “Loving Shepherd of thy Sheep"2
  5. American trad. song, arr. Virgil Thomson: “My Shepherd will supply my need”2
  6. Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr., arr. Bob Chilcott: The Gift to be simple2
  7. Julius Reubke: Sonata on the 94th Psalm 1

Recordings Used:
  1. Martin Jean, Live recording at St Mark’s Cathedral made by Rene Marceau and used by permission
  2. “Simple Gifts” The Tudor Choir, Doug Fullington, director, Gothic G-49265

Listen Online:

KING-FM Seattle's Classical Choice — Sundays at 10:00 PM

OREGON: KWAX-FM and the University of Oregon radio network — Sundays at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Robert Bates Recordings

Yesterday we told you about Robert Bates, so today we wanted to tell you about his recordings which are currently 30% off with the promo code "Bates"!

...In Dialogue, Volume 1
Fisk-Nanney organ (mean tone and well tempered)
Fritts organ (mean tone)
Stanford Memorial Church
Robert Bates and David Yearsley, organists

Two extraordinary organists playing two extraordinary organs in dialogue might seem an over-abundance of riches. Yet it is possible that the great organists of earlier times enjoyed responding to each other across vast spaces. This new recording, which includes compositions by six masters of the North German School, recreates this sound and ambience using two mean-tone organs in Stanford's Memorial Church.

Buxtehude: Toccata in D Minor, BuxWV 155
Scheidt: Bergamasca
Scheidemann: Galliarda ex D
Reincken: Toccata in G Major
Sweelinck: More Palatino
Tunder: Fantasia super "Christ lag in Todesbanden"
Schildt: Gleich wie das Feuer
Schildt Paduana Lachrymae (after John Dowland)
Scheidt: Toccata super "In te, Domine, speravi"

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Recital at Lagerquist Hall
2000 American Guild of Organists national convention
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA
Robert Bates, organ

Robert Bates' recital took place on July 4 during the AGO 2000 Convention on the monumental organ built by Paul Fritts and Company for Lagerquist Hall at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Works from the German Baroque and the late 20th century are featured, including works by Buxtehude, Scheidt, Bach, Pärt, and Bates' own compositions.

Annum per Annum/ Arvo Pärt
Toccata in d minor/ Dietrich Buxtehude
Bergamasca/ Samuel Scheidt
Paduana Lachrymae/ John Dowland
Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 547)/ J. S. Bach
Time Machine (1989; rev. 1999)/ Robert Bates
Saga No. 6 ("Ikarus") / Jean Guillou

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Brahms Complete Organ Works
With chorale preludes introduced by soprano Ruth Escher
Bond Organ, Holy Rosary Catholic Church
Portland, Oregon
Robert Bates, organ

About two-thirds of the pipework on this organ comes from 1880 (John Bergstrom), providing a wonderfully appropriate tonal pallette for Brahms.

Prelude and Fugue in A minor
Chorale Prelude and Fugue on "O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid"
Eleven Chorale Preludes
Fugue in A-flat minor
Prelude and Fugue in G minor

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Viaticum: A Journey of the Mind, Body and Soul
Robert Bates, organist & composer
Organs of Stanford Memorial Church

This unusual CD documents a tri-part program of 20th-century music, organized and composed by Robert Bates. It includes many world premier recordings (in red). With interspersed spoken texts and imaginative programming, Bates explores the nature of the world and ourselves, through verbal themes and non-verbal sound paintings. This is the most unusual organ recording in our collection, and it is a masterpiece of invention, symbolism and imagination.

Includes 24-page book on the music and organs used, plus a 16-page graphical audience score.

CD 1 - The Universe Within: A Journey of the Mind

Prelude 1: Trivium (part 1)/ Arvo Pärt
Pythagoras: Annum per annum ("Year by Year")/ Arvo Pärt
Heraclitus: Orpheus and the Winged Creatures

(for organ and synthesized harp with audience score)/ Robert Bates
The Philosophers of Miletus: Les feux du silence

("The Fires of Silence" from Hyperion or The Rhetoric of Fire)/ Jean Guillou
Democritus: Ricercare/ György Ligeti

Plato: Le jardin suspendu ("The Suspended Garden")/ Jehan Alain
Plotinus: Birthday Tribute

(for organ and synthesizer, constructed on the name B-A-C-H)/ Bates

CD 2 - A Journey of the Body

Prelude II: Trivium (part 2)/ Arvo Pärt
Beginning of the Universe: Coulée ("Flow" from Zwei Etüden für Orgel)/ Ligeti
The Stars: Lumière

("Light" from Sept méditations sur le Saint-Esprit)/ Jeanne Demessieux
Emergence of Life: Coalescence (for organ and pre-recorded organ)/ Bates

The Cambrian Explosion: Gavotte Primitive (for organ and synthesizer)/ Bates
Creatures of Land and Air: Les oiseaux et les sources

("The Birds and the Springs" from Messe de la Pentecôte)/ Messiaen
Fool, Fool: Ikarus (Saga No. 6)/ Guillou

Worlds Beyond: Time Machine

(for organ and pre-recorded organ)/ Bates
Harmony of the Universe: Harmonies (from Zwei Etüden für Orgel)/ Ligeti

CD 3 - Life after Life: A Journey of the Soul

Prelude III: Trivium (part 3)/ Arvo Pärt
Cortege and Descent: Danse funèbre ("Funeral Dance" from Trois danses)/ Alain
Journey to the Other Side: Charon's Oar (with audience score)/ Bates
Entry: Hades' Realm (with audience score)/ Bates
Trial: Last Judgment (for organ and synthesizer)/ Bates
Ascent to the Light: Ascent/ Joan Tower
Release: In Paradisum (from Three Pieces for Organ)/ Calvin Hampton
Journey's End: Trivium (complete)/ Pärt

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Robert Bates

Since we've been telling you about our new recording of the complete works of Titelouze in Bolbec, France, we thought we should tell you a little more about the organist that has taken on this huge project.

Robert Bates

Robert Bates is Associate Professor of Organ at the Moores School of Music, the University of Houston. Previously he was University Organist at Stanford University, where he received a Ph.D. in musicology. Dr. Bates is a specialist in early Spanish and French organ music, the history of theory, and early tuning systems; his articles have appeared in the Organ Yearbook, Music and Letters, Histoire des Sciences and Performance Practice Review. He has won prizes for organ performance in Fort Wayne, San Antonio, Detroit and Bruges, and has also been awarded the Prix d'Excellence and the Prix de Virtuosité from the class of Marie-Claire Alain. Other teachers of performance and improvisation include Robert Anderson, Ray Ferguson and Daniel Roth.

He is frequently invited to appear at conferences sponsored by organizations such as the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, the American Organ Academy, the American Musicological Society, the Westfield Center and the American Institute of Organ Builders. He has performed solo recitals at Stanford University, Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Westminster Choir College, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Duke University, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Vassar College, Princeton Seminary and the University of Michigan, where he participated in a seminar on Early French Organ Music as both a recitalist and lecturer.

Dr. Bates was invited to give a paper and perform at the Colloque International Dom Bedos in Bordeaux, France in May 2004, where he also presented the final paper of the conference on a previously unknown 18th-century French music manuscript. Also in 2004 he judged the semi-final round of the NYACOP and final round of the Miami International Competitions and led workshops at the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Los Angeles and at the National Pedagogy Conference of the American Guild of Organists in Denton, Texas. More recently he was invited to perform at the Oaxaca Organ and Early Music Festival in Oaxaca, Mexico and the Westfield Center’s symposium on the dual temperament organ by Martin Pasi in the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in Omaha, Nebraska. He was also invited to perform a recital on the new organ by Paul Fritts at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana as part of it’s inaugural year of concerts and the first of a special series of concerts by American organists on the Fisk organ in Minato Mirai Hall in Yokohama, Japan.

Check out all of Robert Bates' recordings on The Gothic Catalog!

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Loft Recordings Project!

This past week, our very own Roger Sherman has been in Bolbec, France (Normandy) to record the complete organ works of Jean Titelouze (1562/3 - 1633). Robert Bates is the organist, and the project inolves three CDs total — 95 tracks! There are eight settings of the Magnificat (one for each psalm tone) and a dozen hymns (3-4 versets each). Titelouze was the first French composer to publish organ works, and is thus considered to be the founder of the French school of organ music. His style, however, is quite different than the French Classical composers', such as Couperin and d'Grigny. It is modelled more closely on vocal polyphonic models.

The core of the organ in Bobec was made in the 1630's by Lesselier. A Choer organ was added in the 18th century (the case of pipes on the gallery rail), which makes the instrument quite versatile at playing both early and Classical French music. A restoration by Bertrand Gattiaux in 1997 gave the instrument its current disposition, with both a Recit and Echo organs (four manuals). it is quite possible, even likely, that Titelouze played this organ. Titelouze was organist at the nearby Rouen Cathedral from 1585 until his death.

There or no recordings of the complete works of Titelouze that we are aware of.

Pictures of the organ follow... Note the closeup of the organ pedals in the last photo....

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Organ Loft - New Releases

The Organ Loft - June 6, 2010
New Releases
Webcast and Broadcast Schedule

This week on The Organ Loft we're featuring artists and tracks off our recent releases! Rather than simply linking the mentioned recordings to their page on, today we're linking them back to our favorite blogs on these albums to give you some inside information and fun! So make sure to take some time and look over these great albums and performers.

Program: New Releases
  1. J.S. Bach: Fantasy in G Major, BWV 572 1
  2. Alfonso Ferrabosco: Fancy 1
  3. Dominick Argento: Evensong: of Love and Angels 2
  4. Canticle: Nunc Dimittis Prayer/Lullaby Anthem
  5. D. Buxtehude: Toccata in F, BuxWV 156 3
  6. William Bolcom: Four Preludes on Jewish Melodies (2006)4
  7. I. Hinei Mah Tov II. Yism’chu III. Hal’luhu IV. Sim Shalom

Recordings Used:
  1. “A Fantasy through Time” Kimberly Marshall, organ; Loft LRCD-1108 (and for videos from this album check out the videos from the Bonus DVD on our YouTube Channel!)
  2. “Dominick Argento: Evensong: of Love and Angels” Cathedral Choral Society (Washington National Cathedral), J. Reilly Lewis, conductor, Nelson James LePard Reed, treble, Gothic G-49269
  3. “Dieterich Buxtehude and the Schnitger Organ (Volume 3 Compete organ works)” Hans Davidsson, organ; Loft LRCD 1094-96
  4. “Thom Miles: Organ music by Bolcom, Hindemith and Mendelssohn” Thom Miles, organ; Arsis CD 169

Listen Online:

KING-FM Seattle's Classical Choice — Sundays at 10:00 PM

OREGON: KWAX-FM and the University of Oregon radio network — Sundays at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Gothic Catalog Search Story

Ever wanted to share what The Gothic Catalog has to offer, but just couldn't find the words? Well, now you'll have something to illustrate! Check out our new "The Gothic Catalog is" Google Search Story and share it with your friends!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Elgar!

Today is Edward Elgar's 153rd birthday! So to celebrate, we thought we would share some of his music!

Edward Elgar at Woolsey Hall
Music for Organ
Original Works and Transcriptions
Thomas Murray, Organist
Newberry Memorial Organ at Yale University

  1. Imperial March, for orchestra, Op. 32
  2. Pieces (2) ("Chanson de matin" & "Chanson de nuit"), for violin & piano (later orchestrated), Op. 15 Chanson de Nuit
  3. Carillon, for reciter, organ & orchestra, Op. 75
  4. The Black Knight, cantata for chorus & orchestra, Op. 25 Solemn March
  5. Vesper Voluntaries (11), for organ, Op. 14
  6. Sonata for organ in G major, Op.28

Celebrate the occasion and buy today!

Choral Music of Edward Elgar
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, England
Richard Marlow, director

Richard Marlow's final recording as director of the Trinity Colleg echoir (Cambridge, England)! The choral works of Edward Elgar are gems of the English Romantic tradition. Under the direction of Marlow, the choir of Trinity College was the first mixed choir in a Cambridge college. As an adult mixed choir, they have the distinctive, clear English sound we admire, but with the power that only mature voices can produce. Highly recommended!

  1. Give unto the Lord, Op. 74 (1914)
  2. Ave Verum, Op. 2 No. 1
  3. Ave Maria, Op. 2, No. 2
  4. Ave maria stella , Op. 2, No. 3
  5. Light out of Darkness, Op. 29 (1896)
  6. Intende voci orationis meae, Op. 64 (1911)
  7. Goodmorrowe (1929)
  8. Te Deum, Op. 34, No. 1 (1897)
  9. Benedictus, Op. 34, No. 2
  10. I sing the Birth (1928)
  11. Doubt not, Op. 29 (1896)
  12. Fear not (1914)
  13. Light of the world, Op. 29 (1896)
  14. They are at rest (1909)
  15. Great is the Lord (Psalm 48), Op. 67

Celebrate and Buy Today!

While famous for his oratorios and cantatas, Edward Elgar is much less well known as an composer of sacred music than his contemporaries Charles Villiers Stanford and Charles Wood, or even C. Hubert H. Parry, whose works, such as the anthem “I was glad” and his Songs of Farewell have largely been appropriated for liturgical use (even though they were not written for church use). Elgar’s efforts in the sacred music genre tell an interesting and varied story. His early sacred works reflect his occupation as organist of St. George’s Roman Catholic Church in Worcester in the 1880s. As his fame as a composer became mainstream, however, his works for the church were shaped largely by the demands of Anglicanism, the English choral festival, and by the needs of publishers such as Novello, whose catalog mirrored Britain’s insatiable appetite for choral music at that time.

Elgar’s employment at St. George’s yielded a number of liturgical works. The three Latin miniatures of Op. 2, included here—Ave verum, Ave Maria, and Ave maris stella—were originally sketched in the 1880s; Ave verum began life as a setting of the Pie Jesu text from the Requiem Mass and was rewritten in 1902. The other two, also revisited later by the composer, were published in 1907. All three, eminently “High Victorian” in atmosphere, suggest the influence of John Stainer (whose Crucifixion was published in 1887), though there are periodic individual harmonic thumbprints and melodic turns of phrase.

It was not until the 1890s that Elgar and his music began to be noticed. After performances of The Black Knight (Worcester, 1893) and Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (Worcester, 1896) as well as the publication of an impressive organ sonata (1895), he was commissioned by the Worcester Three Choirs Festival for an hour-long oratorio. The resulting work for that festival—Lux Christi (“The Light of Life”), Op. 29—is based on the story of the blind man restored to sight in the Gospel of St. John. Dedicated to the organist Charles Swinnerton Heap, it was first performed in Worcester Cathedral on September 10, 1896, and revised in 1899.

Three of the five principal choruses are included on this recording. “Light out of darkness” is an effusive acclamation of Jesus as “Saviour of the World”; “Doubt not thy Father’s care” is a reflective, intermezzo-like duet for sopranos and altos on Jesus’ healing of the blind man; and “Light of the World,” the most substantial and symphonic, occurs at the oratorio’s conclusion affirming Christ’s promise of eternal life.

Hot on the heels of “The Light of Life” were the Te Deum and Benedictus, Op. 34, commissioned by George Robertson Sinclair, organist of Hereford Cathedral, for the Hereford Three Choirs Festival of 1897. Both movements, thoroughly symphonic in conception (Elgar’s treatment of voices is palpably instrumental), reveal a new muscularity in terms of their pronounced melodic appoggiaturas and the potent admixture of diatonicism and chromaticism (probably gleaned in part from Parry and Richard Wagner). In fact the composer himself sensed that there was something novel, even radical, in this work which, with its contrapuntal integration of voices and accompaniment, looked to a new, progressive style of choral work.

It was during the Edwardian and early Georgians eras that Elgar reached his creative apogee. Between 1901 and 1914 he completed his greatest choral and orchestral works and, much admired by Hans Richter and Richard Strauss among others, enjoyed an international reputation. In replacing Parry as the nation’s unofficial composer-laureate, he also provided music for state occasions. For his solemn setting of “They are at rest,” an anthem written for the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s death and sung at the Mausoleum at Frogmore on 22 January 1910, Elgar drew on Cardinal John Henry Newman’s poem “Waiting for the morning,” a moving meditation from the Cardinal’s Verses on Various Occasions. The following year, in addition to his Coronation March, Elgar produced Intende voci orationis meae (“O hearken thou”), Op. 64, an offertory motet for the coronation of George V at Westminster Abbey. Subdued and devotional in tone, the harmonic language of this passionate miniature, with its unusual cadences, chromatic intensity (redolent of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) and yearning choral gestures, reveals a new complexity in Elgar’s style which had been steadily emerging in the symphonies and the Violin Concerto.

“O hearken thou,” which used lines from Psalm 5, was one of three works of this period for which Elgar drew on the psalms. “Great is the Lord,” Op. 67, a larger, multi-sectional anthem, is a setting of Psalm 48 and was written to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Society. In the outer sections it is possible to hear echoes of the finale of the Violin Concerto (“mount Zion on the sides of the north”) while the inner sections seem to draw more extensively on the motifsfirst heard in The Apostles and The Kingdom (notably the Allegro section and the bass solo). On a similar scale, “Give unto the Lord,” Op. 74, a setting of Psalm 29, was composed for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy at St. Paul’s Cathedral where it was first sung on 30 April 1914 under the direction of its dedicatee, Sir George Martin, organist of the cathedral. In this work, features of Elgar’s style seem at their most pronounced. Much of the musical fabric is constructed by means of sequence imbued with the composer’s propensity for expressive appoggiaturas (such as during “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”) and three-part counterpoint, while his love of modality lends a pensive melancholy to the more restrained central paragraph (“In His temple”).

Though conforming to a more traditional choral style (rather than the more “orchestral” one favored by Elgar in his larger works), the simpler anthem “Fear not, O Land” derives much of its appeal from unexpected changes of key (such as those in the opening fourteen bars), and Elgar’s dramatic return to the tonic (“do yield their strength”) is a particularly fine moment. Two other small gems, “I sing the Birth” and “Good Morrow,” date from the late 1920s. The carol “I sing the Birth,” a setting of Ben Jonson’s text (“An hymn on the Nativity of my Saviour”), was completed on 30 October 1928 and first performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the Royal Choral Society under the direction of Malcolm Sargent. An unusual conception, the piece begins with a modal alleluia (textually added by Elgar) which proceeds to intersperse monodic passages for tenor, alto, and bass before the whole choir engages in a full, four-part harmonization (the effect of which is both impressive and deeply emotional). This entire process is repeated as if to emphasize the prayerful simplicity of the setting, though the closing alleluias, which invoke the harmonic intensity of the Violin Concerto’s slow movement, have a more complex enigmatic quality in their conclusion on the dominant. “Good Morrow’” (this was its published title, though Elgar requested that the final page of the copy make George Gascoigne’s original sixteenth-century text available – as “Goode Morrowe”), described as “a simple carol for His Majesty’s happy recovery,” was written at the request of Sir Walford Davies (at that time organist of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor) to celebrate the recovery of King George V from serious illness. To supply this unexpected commission, Elgar went back to an old source of hymn tunes (just as he would do in 1930 for the Nursery Suite) which explains the uncomplicated, hymn-like manner of the regular phrases and stanzaic structure, though later verses reveal more elaborate textural treatment. “Good Morrow” was first sung by the choir of St. George’s at their annual concert in Windsor on 9 December 1929 under the composer’s direction; the performance was broadcast to the nation.

— Jeremy Dibble