This summer, from August 19 through August 31, I attended the Smarano Organ Academy in northern Italy. The Academy began this year in the Netherlands, at the Grote Kerk in Alkmaar, where Pieter van Dijk led masterclasses on that church’s two very famous — and fabulous — organs: the 1511 van Covelens organ and the 1636/1723 Schnitger organ. From there we flew to Smarano, a tiny village in the mountains of northern Italy, where courses were led in organ and harpsichord by Edoardo Bellotti, Sietze de Vries, Joel Speerstra, and Enrico Baiano. A special highlight was the visit of Montserrat Torrent, the 92-year-old (!) Spanish organist, who played a concert and taught a masterclass. Despite a very intense schedule (8 am to 10 pm every day, with short breaks for lunch and dinner), the high caliber of teaching combined with excellent instruments and a gorgeous location made the Academy a truly special experience. I am very grateful to the church for the time off and financial assistance that allowed me to attend the Academy.
On Sunday afternoon, April 15, at 4 pm, the Westminster Organ Concert Series presents an organ recital of music of Johann Sebastian Bach by organist Peter Sykes. Mr. Sykes is associate professor of music and chair of the historical performance department at Boston University, and also teaches at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He has performed throughout the world and has made eight solo recordings, including music of Bach, Reger, and a transcription of the Gustav Holsts’s The Planets. Admission to the concert is free, and a reception will follow.
On Sunday, April 15, at 4 pm, the Westminster Organ Concert Series presents an organ recital by Peter Sykes. Mr. Sykes, who teaches at Boston University and Julliard School of Music, returns to Westminster for an all-Bach program. The concert is free, and a reception will follow.
This year’s Good Friday service will follow the traditional liturgy of Tenebrae for Holy Week, with readings from the Psalms and Thomas Tallis’s setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. In the contemplative service of Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”), music serves as a reflection on the texts being read, and a candle is extinguished after each reading, until only one is left. Five singers, four drawn from the choir — Megan Sharp, Steve Patek, Jonathan Schakel, and Winston Barham — along with guest Emily Stubbs, will sing music from the Renaissance by Tallis, William Byrd, Giovanni Croce, and Lodovico Viadana.
On Friday, March 16, at 7:30 pm, the Westminster Organ Concert Series presents an organ recital by Jonathan Schakel. The program will include music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book by William Byrd and Thomas Tallis, as well as works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dieterich Buxtehude, Jacques van Oortmerssen and Naji Hakim. The concert is free and open to the public.