Juilliard Organists Present "The Organ As Chamber Music Partner" on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8 PM at Christ & Saint Stephen's Church in New York City


Seven Students of Paul Jacobs Collaborate with Juilliard Instrumentalists in Chamber Works by Bach, Mozart, Rheinberger, Hovhaness, Koetsier, Grandjany, and Hakim

Start Date

Monday, February 24, 2014

Press Release Images

Paul Jacobs (Photo by Justin Astafanous)
Paul Jacobs (Photo by Justin Astafanous)


Juilliard organists, directed by Paul Jacobs, chair of Juilliard’s Organ Department, will collaborate with Juilliard instrumentalists in “The Organ as Chamber Music Partner,” which will feature the unique role of the organ in chamber music. The FREE concert takes place at Christ & Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New York City on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (120 West 69th Street, between Broadway and Columbus Avenue) on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8 PM. The program features Juilliard organists David Ball, Michael Hey, Ryan Kennedy, Colin MacKnight, Griffin McMahon, Raymond Nagem, and Janet Yieh. This will be the second of two concerts to feature Juilliard organists this season.

The program includes J.S. Bach’s Flute Sonata in A Major, BWV 1032; Mozart’s Adagio and Rondo for Organ, Flute, Oboe, Viola, and Cello, K. 617; Josef Rheinberger’s Suite for Organ, Violin, and Cello, Op. 149; Alan Hovhaness’s Prayer of St. Gregory for Trumpet, Horn, and Organ; Jan Koetsier’s Partita for English Horn and Organ; Marcel Grandjany’s Aria for Harp and Organ; and Naji Hakim’s Capriccio for Violin and Organ.

No tickets are required for this FREE recital. For further information, call (212) 787-2755 or go to www.juilliard.edu/organ2014.

The organ at Christ & Saint Stephen’s was designed and built by the San Francisco organ builder, Schoenstein & Company, and has been featured in The New York Times and The American Organist. The three-manual, 15 voice organ of 17 ranks is comprised of 1,042 pipes. The organ’s dynamic range and breadth of color make for a versatile symphonic instrument suited not only to support for congregational singing and as choral accompaniment, but for the performance of virtuosic solo repertoire as well. Paul Jacobs, who is also artist-in-residence at Christ & Saint Stephen’s, was closely involved in the building of the organ and dedicated the instrument with a recital in 2008.

Baroque composers frequently employed the organ and harpsichord for the realization of basso continuo lines, in which the keyboardist would improvise an accompaniment according to a harmonic shorthand called figured bass. Continuo with organ acquired an association with sacred music—a connotation which fell away as the non-liturgical oratorio gained popularity. The late Baroque and development of the trumpet sonata saw a trend of obbligato accompanimental writing for the organ. These accompaniments were not improvised, but were entirely written out by the composer and bore musical significance comparable to their instrumental and choral counterparts. During the Romantic era, the fortepiano’s rise to prominence and the decreased role of the Church in music saw little in the way of chamber writing for organ. Josef Rheinberger, whose Suite for Organ, Violin, and Cello will be featured on this program, César Franck, and Camille Saint-Saëns were among the Romantic composers who wrote chamber music for the organ. Further dissociation of the organ’s religious implications and the expansion of musical genres in the 20th century led to a revived interest in the organ’s role in chamber music. Jean Langlais, Leo Sowerby, and Alan Hovhaness, whose Prayer of St. Gregory for Trumpet, Horn, and Organ is also featured on this recital, were among the most prominent 20th century composers of chamber music for organ.

Bach’s Flute Sonata in A Major for flute and obbligato keyboard is his third of six flute sonatas. The work features the keyboard not merely in the accompanimental role as a continuo instrument, but as a fully collaborative partner, with the keyboard contributing melodic material of its own.

Mozart wrote his Adagio and Rondo for Organ, Flute, Oboe, Viola, and Cello in May of 1791, fewer than seven months before he died. Alfred Einstein, a prominent Mozart scholar, called K. 617 “one of [Mozart’s] heavenly works…with an unearthly beauty.”

Organist and composer Josef Rheinberger lived in Germany for most of his life. His Suite for Organ, Violin, and Cello in four movements dates from 1887. In the finale, the organ takes prominence amid this rarely explored combination of instruments by way of extroverted virtuosic passages.

The Prayer of St. Gregory for Trumpet, Horn, and Organ (originally for trumpet and string orchestra) is one of Alan Hovhaness’s most popular works and was described by its composer as “a prayer in darkness.” The five-minute piece is excerpted from Hovhaness’s opera Etchmiadzin, which premiered in New York City in October of 1946.

Jan Koetsier’s Partita for English Horn and Organ, composed in 1956, has a distinctly Hindemithian flavor. The fifth and final movement is a choral prelude on the tune “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star.”

French-born harpist and composer Marcel Grandjany began to study harp at eight years old and was chair of The Juilliard School’s harp department from 1938 until his death in 1975. His Aria for Harp and Organ “in Classic Style” has been described by British conductor and recording artist Jeremy Summerly as “a neo-Baroque gem…underpinned by the spirit of Bach.”

Lebanese-French organist and composer Naji Hakim was a student of Jean Langlais and succeeded Olivier Messiaen as organist at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris, from 1993 until 2008. His Capriccio for Violin and Organ was composed in 2005.

Juilliard Organists — Bios

David Ball, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is in his fourth year of the undergraduate program at Juilliard. He is the 2013 winner of the Denver AGO Chapter's Competition for Young Organists, the 2011 winner of the Kansas City AGO Chapter’s Competition for Young Organists, and is the recipient of the rarely-conferred Outstanding Student Award from the St. Louis Chapter of the AGO. Mr. Ball serves as the assistant musician at St. Malachy’s – The Actors’ Chapel in Times Square, and when in St. Louis, serves as organ scholar and assistant musician at St. Luke the Evangelist Church. He has performed recitals in New York City at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, in Atlantic City at the National Historic Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, and in San Francisco at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.

Michael Hey is a second-year master of music student at Juilliard. He serves as assisting organist at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. In November 2010, he made his New York City debut at Lincoln Center performing a Handel organ concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas McGegan. In July 2011, Mr. Hey received first prize in the Region II Competition for Young Organists at the AGO Convention in Morristown, New Jersey and performed a solo recital on WMBC-TV. In February 2011, he played an organ and violin duo in Juilliard’s FOCUS! festival. He performs organ and piano concerts and enjoys transcribing and premiering music for both instruments.

Ryan Kennedy is a sophomore in the combined Columbia University/Juilliard School exchange program and studies organ with Paul Jacobs while pursuing a degree in physics. Before college, he was a student of Timothy Lewis at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. Mr. Kennedy has held positions in Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Catholic churches in his native Hudson Valley, and most recently at Morristown Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. In 2013, he won Region II of the AGO Regional Competition for Young Organists, having previously won the preliminary Metropolitan New Jersey Chapter Competition. He will be performing at the 2014 National Convention in Boston. While Mr. Kennedy is devoted to the organ, he also is an accomplished pianist and composer. Mr. Kennedy has a particular interest in opera, vocal coaching, and accompaniment, and has worked for Bel Canto at Caramoor. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 playing a recital of Lieder.

Colin MacKnight is currently a third-year organ major at Juilliard and a recipient of the E.H. Ludlam Scholarship. In September of 2013, he began work as organ scholar at New York City’s Church of the Resurrection under music director David Enlow. Among other duties, he shares responsibilities for accompanying and conducting the professional choir, which performs more than 50 choral mass settings each year, often with orchestra. Mr. MacKnight is a graduate of Walnut Hill School for the Arts. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and The Music Center at Strathmore. He has performed under the direction of Lorin Maazel, Benjamin Zander, Piotr Gajewski, and Elizabeth Schulze, and with the National Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of the 2013-14 season include performances at Church of the Resurrection in New York City; Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, NJ; Saints Peter and Paul Church in Naperville, IL; and Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In September of 2013, Mr. MacKnight was selected as the winner of the Ruth and Paul Manz Organ Scholarship. In October, he was selected as the first place winner of the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition. In March, he won second place in the AGO’s New York City Regional Competition for Young Organists. Mr. MacKnight, who wrote his first musical composition at the age of five, still enjoys composing today. He has a particular fascination with counterpoint and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Griffin McMahon is a third-year undergraduate at Juilliard, and is the recipient of the Juilliard Alumni Scholarship and The Chairman’s Grant. He is the organ scholar at Christ Church United Methodist in New York City. A native of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Mr. McMahon has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Verizon Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Princeton University Chapel, and on the world’s largest functional pipe organ, the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s Center City Philadelphia. Mr. McMahon's performances have been broadcast on WRTI's Wanamaker Organ Hour. He is the first prize winner of the Charlotte Hoyt Bagnall Organ Competition and has won prizes in the Regional Competition for Young Organists (Region I). An advocate of new music, he has premiered works by Juilliard composers Sean Smeed and Alice Gi-Young Hwang.

Raymond Nagem, a native of Boston, is a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at Juilliard and organ scholar at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Mr. Nagem received his bachelor of arts degree from Yale University, where he studied with Thomas Murray, and his master of music degree from Juilliard. He has performed throughout the Northeast, including concerts with the Juilliard Orchestra and the Yale Symphony Orchestra. As the recipient of the first American Friends of Eton College Scholarship, he spent a year in England studying music at Eton College. In 2011, he made his radio debut on New York City’s WQXR accompanying the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Kent Tritle. He has won prizes in the AGO Regional Competition for Young Organists and the John R. Rodland Scholarship Competition.

Janet Yieh, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, is a third-year undergraduate organ student of Paul Jacobs at Juilliard, where she is a recipient of the Juilliard Alumni Scholarship and the Neil Carlson Memorial Scholarship in Organ. She is assistant organist at Trinity Wall Street. Ms. Yieh won first prize at the 2013 Philadelphia Chapter AGO Young Organist Competition and she holds second prizes from the 2013 Rodgers Classical Organ Competition and 2010 Albert Schweitzer Competition. She has performed solo recitals around the United States and in Asia. In late 2013 she was broadcast on New York City’s WWFM accompanying the Trinity Choir. Ms. Yieh is featured on the recording Celebrating the Skinner Organ, released by Schott Music.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 8PM, Christ & Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church (120 West 69th Street, NYC)

Juilliard Organists Present “The Organ as Chamber Music Partner”

No tickets are required for this FREE recital. For further information, call (212) 787-2755 or go to www.juilliard.edu/organ2014



BACH Flute Sonata in A Major, BWV 1032

Colin MacKnight, organ


MOZART Adagio and Rondo for Organ, Flute, Oboe, Viola, and Cello, K. 617

Raymond Nagem, organ


RHEINBERGER Suite for Organ, Violin, and Cello, Op. 149

Janet Yieh, organ


HOVHANESS Prayer of St. Gregory for Trumpet, Horn, and Organ

David Ball, organ


KOETSIER Partita for English Horn and Organ

Ryan Kennedy, organ


GRANDJANY Aria for Harp and Organ

Griffin McMahon, organ


HAKIM Capriccio for Violin and Organ

Michael Hey, organ