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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

1972 Harrison organ at Christ Episcopal Church, Savannah, GA
1972 Harrison organ at Christ Church, Savannah, GA

In Black and White

The pipe organ offers a player a rainbow of sonorous hues from which to draw, and while our next Pipedreams program exploits such opportunity, we also deal with a different facet of color. During the past century, composers such as William Grant Still, Thomas Kerr, Ulysses Kay, and Florence Price have made sizeable, if sometimes unheralded, contributions to the concert repertoire of the king of instruments. Whether in abstract visions or classical forms, responding to main-stream themes or spiritual influences, theirs is an important voice, as you’ll discover listening to a dozen remarkable works recorded by James Abbington, David Oliver, Mark Miller, Lucius Weathersby, Mickey Thomas Terry, and friends.

Color me intrigued by the richness and variety of music for pipe organ by African American composers. Is it a paradox that we experience the full range of color In Black and White? The African American impulse, this week on Pipedreams.

Program Broadcast dates:

  • February 4, 2002

Music played in the program

FLORENCE PRICE: Suite for Organ Number 1
Kimberly Marshall, movements 1 & 4 (1987 Rosales/Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, OR) Loft LRCD-1021
Calvert Johnson, movements 2 & 3 (1972 Harrison/Christ Church, Savannah, GA) Calcante CD-014

WILLIAM GRANT STILL (arranged by Weathersby): Summerland, from 3 Visions. VIOLET GEORGE BOWERS: Joie. TRADITIONAL (arranged by Uzee Brown): Were you there? LUCIUS WEATHERSBY: Spiritual Fantasy –Lucius Weathersby (1864 Henry Willis/St. Michael & All Angels Church, Great Torrington, Devon, England, UK) Albany TROY440

FLORENCE PRICE: Variations on a Folksong, Peter, go ring dem bells –Frances Nobert (1998 Glatter-Götz; Rosales/Claremont UCC, Claremont, CA) Raven OAR-550

THOMAS KERR: Miniature Antiphonale on a Pedal Point. WILLIAM B. COOPER: Chorale-prelude, Steal Away –Mickey Thomas Terry (1964 Möller; 2001 Goulding & Wood/National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC) Pipedreams Archive recording

FELA SOWANDE: Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho –Hans Uwe Hielscher (1982 Oberlinger/Market Church, Wiesbaden, Germany) Edition Lade CD-016

SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (arranged by Swinnen): Scenes from an Imaginary Ballet Number 1 –Peter Richard Conte (1930 Aeolian/Longwood Gardens, Dupont Estate, Kennett Square, PA) DTR CD-9703

ULYSSES KAY: Suite Number 1 –James Abbington (1953 Aeolian-Skinner/Riverside, New York, NY) JAV CD-112

RALPH SIMPSON: Swing low, sweet chariot –David F. Oliver (1992 Ontko & Young/First Scots Presbyterian, Charleston, SC) FSPC CD-12422

MARK MILLER: Toccata, God rest ye merry –Mark Miller (1953 Aeolian-Skinner/Riverside, New York, NY) Gothic G49122

Filler –WILLIAM GRANT STILL Summerland (see above)

A new anthology of organ works by African-American composers is available from MorningStar Music Publishers. The music of Florence Price, edited by Calvert Johnson, is available from CalNan Editions.