(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Works by Bach, Charpentier, Clarke, Purcell, and others will be performed in the Berkshire Bach series at First United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 29, at 5pm. The concert showcases works that pair Baroque organ with brass. Organist Brink Bush will be joined by Eric Berlin and Richard Watson on trumpets.
Baroque organ and brass music evokes the formal and ceremonial grandeur of the great courts of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. France under Louis XIV and Louis XV, England beginning with the Restoration, and the German States after the Thirty Years’ War each developed unique artistic styles that clearly express their national character while using the same Baroque musical idiom.
This program, which pairs Baroque organ compositions with brass instrumentation, presents festive music from these distinct musical traditions, written by two generations of composers whose lives spanned the years 1650-1750, and who defined the music of their time and place. It provides an opportunity to explore differences in musical structure, texture, and rhythm in a period before such individual character gave way to a more universal, international style in the transition to the world of Haydn and Mozart.
As with most music in the Baroque era, many of the works on the program were originally scored for keyboard generally, and not organ specifically. Keyboard instruments included the harpsichord and clavichord in addition to the organ, with the type of music itself suggesting the choice of instrument. Music written for the Church was most typically played on the organ, which could emulate different instruments through manipulating the various organ stops that control the flow of air through the pipes. Music written for dancing was performed on the harpsichord or clavichord.
Similarly, the pieces called trumpet tune or trumpet voluntary (LeBègue, Mouret, Purcell, and Stanley) were not scored for trumpet, but were instead solo organ works to be played during the church service, with the organist using a trumpet stop that simulates a brass tone. Using the organ instead of an actual trumpet may have been an economy – one performer instead of two – or because the natural trumpet used until the early 1700s had no valves and hence a limited range.
With the development of the valve trumpet and more extensive repertoire, modern performance practice encourages the pairing of organ and brass, which today achieves the signature sound we associate with Baroque music.
Organist Brink Bush is one of the leading interpreters of German Romantic organ music in the world today. He studied at the Peabody Institute, the Juilliard School, and the Eastman School of Music, working with Rosalyn Tureck and other prominent teachers. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe, making his German debut at the Berliner Dom, and is an authority on the important twentieth-century German organist Wilhelm Middelschulte. His writings include work on Middelschulte, whose performances of the music of JS Bach were critically acclaimed, and an analysis of the organ technique of Virgil Fox. To date he has recorded Vol. I of the complete organ works by Middelschulte. He is Organist and Director of Music at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms, Mass. In this concert, he returns to the Baroque repertoire, re-creating keyboard classics from the French, English, and German schools.
A native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, trumpeter Eric Berlin has an extensive teaching, ensemble, and solo performance career. He has been Principal Trumpet with the Albany Symphony since 1998, and specializes in contemporary music. Active in promoting new works for his instrument, Mr. Berlin has been a featured soloist at conferences of the International Trumpet Guild, where he serves on the Board, and with numerous orchestras both here and abroad. His discography includes premieres and other recordings of music for trumpet by diverse contemporary composers, both new and established. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music, and has studied with notable alumnae of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, notably Charles Schlueter, the New York Brass Quintet, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He enjoys international regard as Artist Teacher of Trumpet at UMass-Amherst, and writes for the Brass Herald, the world’s largest magazine for brass music and instruments.
Trumpeter Richard Watson is Principal Trumpet of the Nashua and Granite State Symphony Orchestras and Assistant Principal of the Boston Philharmonic. While still in high school, he was accepted into Benjamin Zander’s masterclass and the private studio of BSO Principal Trumpet Charles Schlueter. He continued his studies with Schlueter at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, spending three summers with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra before moving on to work with Vincent Penzarella of the New York Philharmonic and James Pandolfi of the Metropolitan Opera. He has performed as Principal Trumpet with numerous orchestras, including the Waldstadt Kammerorchester in Karlsruhe, Germany. His discography includes Hope, an album of music forsolo trumpet and organ, and recordings with the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Boston Philharmonic, the Albany Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and the Sony Classical video series, Marsalis on Music, with Wynton Marsalis.
The performance begins at 5pm at The First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn St, Pittsfield, Mass. Tickets for preferred seating are available online at www.berkshirebach.org. General admission tickets will be available at the door.
Bach | Dramma per musica
Fantasie and Fugue in C minor BWV 562
Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543
Charpentier | Prelude from the Te Deum
Clarke | The Kings March
Dandrieu | Rondeau
Lebèque | Tune
Mouret | Trumpet Tune
Purcell | Trumpet Tune in C
Trumpet Tune in D
Rondeau from “Abdelazar”, Sonata
Stanley | Trumpet Voluntary