The pipe organ is historically an instrument that was at the forefront of innovation: it was the original synthesizer with hundreds of pipes that mimic other sounds. The organist, adjusting the sound of the pipes in real time as he or she played, was the original music producer. Historically, composers were excited to write organ music, as the instrument’s versatility and possibilities acted as a playground for the imagination. Composers today are intimidated by the organ’s heritage and unaware of its modern possibilities, resulting in a contemporary repertoire that is stale and irrelevant. The current contemporary music scene is fertile with experimentation; composers are hungry for new ways to produce sound, which the organ can satisfy.
I would like to bring the organ back as a sonic laboratory for composers and allow them to express new ideas. My collaborator Shannon Murphy and I would like to make this happen by commissioning four young composers to write new works for the organ that push the boundaries of organ repertoire while building a new audience for the organ and contemporary music.
Over the next few months we will work with these composers and help them learn how to write for the organ, showcasing their resulting work at a concert on February 5th, 2019, at St. Michael’s Church in New York City. The concert, titled “Fresh Pipes: A Concert of World Premieres for Organ” will feature Shannon and myself as the performers.
We have chosen four composers whose work we believe in: Victor Baez, Aris Antoniades, Lydia Chang, and Suzanne Kosowitz. All four come from different countries and diverse ethnic backgrounds, and have already showcased that they are capable of writing fresh, innovative works. Through these commissions, we hope to breathe new life into the organ repertoire and lend much-needed diversity to this white, European, male-dominated field. This project will demonstrate that this instrument is not limited to the confines of antiquity.
You can get your tickets to the February 5th concert right now!
Funded by New York City, NY (November 2018)