A FESTIVE PROCLAMATIONSelected Works for Organ
Samual Adler, Johann Sebastian Bach, Eric Ewazen, Cesar Franck, George Frideric Handel, Charles-Marie Widor
WILLIAM NEIL, organ
Aeolian Skinner Organ
The National Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.c
Chris Gekker, Trumpet
Delores Ziegler, Mezzo-Soprano
Alice Kogan Weinreb & Nicolette Oppelt, Flutes
"This thrilling recital showcases the power and versatility of the John Jay Hopkins Memorial Organ and the musical talents of William Neil...Neil rips into [Bach's] D minor Toccata and Fugue [on a ] grand performance which exploits both the mighty instrument and the resonant space...[the] sumptuous recording qualifies this CD for audiophile demonstration purposes."
The Gramophone [Awards Issue 2005]
"This instrument is one of the finest...creations of the Aeolian-Skinner firm...William Neil offers a scintillating performance of Adler's Festive Proclamation...spirited...finely played...imbued with tender affection..."
The American Organist [September 2005]
"This collection provides... a striking cross section of William Neil's interpretive prowess...The Bach pieces are given atmospheric and loving performances...particularly moving...a fine performance...Ewazen's A Hymn for the Lost and the Living is alone worth the price of admission...[the Widor excerpts) are done with requisite panache..."
Fanfare [May/June 2005]
"William Neil fulfills his duties brilliantly...[This is a] varied and incessantly diverting program...Gleaming and lifelike recorded sound adds immeasurably to the experience"
Tim Page [The Washington Post]
PROGRAM NOTESTHE ORGAN
The John Jay Hopkins Memorial Organ in the sanctuary of The National Presbyterian Church, Washington D.C., is considered one of the finest and last examples of its genre. It is truly an American Classic. Installed in 1969 by the distinguished Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston, MA and dedicated in 1970, it is known by performers and audiences for its clarity and power, tonal diversity, and its ability to play the composite organ repertoire from all musical periods without compromise. Embellished by the church’s ideal acoustics, it has become a favorite concert instrument among the world’s most distinguished organists, and the grand space in which it resides is in constant demand by noted conductors, orchestras and choral ensembles as a performance and recording venue.
The organ consists of seven divisions. Five are included in the main organ, installed in the front wall of the church, above and behind the choir loft. The space that contains the main organ is actually a part of the sanctuary itself, but is shielded from view by a thin cloth screen. The Swell organ is located on the left side in two levels, and the Choir organ is on the lower right. Centered between these divisions is the Great organ, with the Positiv above it. The pipes of the Pedal organ are located above the Swell enclosure, and behind the Great and Positiv. The Solo division, with its majestic Tuba Mirabilis, was added in 1991 and is located on the upper right side, above the Choir. The Antiphonal organ, complete with its own Pedal division, is visible in the rear gallery of the sanctuary. The State Trumpet is mounted on the front of the Antiphonal organ, with its pipes projecting en chamade (horizontally) into the nave.
The console has five keyboards, four manual and one pedal, and is located in the front of the choir loft. The organ contains 106 ranks and a total of more than 6000 individual pipes. Most of the organ pipes speak on low wind pressure, but the State Trumpet is voiced on eleven inches of wind pressure to allow its sound to traverse the long nave of the sanctuary. In 1987, solid state electronic controls were installed to replace original electropneumatic controls, and provisions were made for future expansion of the instrument. 16 general pistons, 8 pistons for each division, and 64 levels of memory were added as part of this upgrade. Swell, Choir and Solo divisions are under expression, and a 60-level digital readout Crescendo Pedal with standard and programmable settings enables organists to make rapid dynamic changes.
In 1997, the DiGennaro-Hart Organ Company, McLean, Virginia, replaced the keyboards with a new replica set made with eight-cut ivories and ebony accidentals. In 2003, the same firm completed the rebuilding of the console, using new switching systems built by Solid State Organ Systems of Oxford, England. A MIDI data filer permits full recording and playback of performances. The console, with its generous complement of couplers and reversibles, is moveable to any position on the Liturgical Center, and can be fully visible from the nave for recitals, chamber music and concerts with choir and orchestra.
WILLIAM NEIL, Organist and Harpsichordist of the National Symphony Orchestra, is well-known in the Nation’s Capital and the United States for his performances of traditional and contemporary organ music. Prior to his appointment in 2001 as Organist of The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, he served as Organist of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago. He has performed as soloist with the National Symphony under the batons of Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Allessandro Siciliani, Christopher Hogwood, Iona Brown and Jose-Luis Garcia, and is featured in recordings on the Philips, Sony, Naxos, Summit and Newport Classic labels.
Neil is active as chamber soloist and continuo player with period and modern instrument ensembles, performing music from the 18th to 21st centuries. In concerts with the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Chicago’s Millar Brass Ensemble, and Washington Symphonic Brass, as well as appearances at national and international festivals with many of the world’s noted brass musicians, his reputation as “the trumpeters’ organist” has become well- established. His devotion to music for organ and instruments prompted a Washington Post critic to refer to him as “a unique keyboardist…an organist who has gone out of his way to play chamber music.” Mr. Neil is the first Washington organist invited to perform on the Charles Fisk Organ at the Meyerson Center in Dallas, Texas. In 2001, he was a featured soloist in the inaugural concerts of the new Casavant Organ at Robert Jacoby Hall with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, performing Samuel Barber’s Toccata Festiva. A champion of contemporary music, Neil brings to the listener two new works on this CD, Samuel Adler’s Festive Proclamation and Eric Ewazen’s A Hymn for the Lost and the Living.
William Neil grew up in Central Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University and Syracuse University. Inspired by the teaching of organists Leonard Raver, Arthur Poister, and Will Headlee, and harpsichordist Anthony Newman, Mr. Neil has enjoyed a career both onstage and in the classroom, serving the faculties at George Mason University and The Catholic University of America as organ instructor. Many of his former students hold prominent academic and church music positions in the U.S. and around the world.
GEORGE FREDERIC HANDEL
ORGAN CONCERTO IN B-FLAT MAJOR, Op.4, No.6
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD, BWV 79 (arr. E. Power Biggs)
COME, SWEET DEATH, BWV 478 (arr. Virgil Fox)
SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE, BWV 208 (arr. E. Power Biggs)
TOCCATA AND FUGUE IN D MINOR, BWV 565
CHORAL NO.1 IN E MAJOR
A HYMN FOR THE LOST AND THE LIVING
SYMPHONY NO.5, Op. 42
(Adagio & Toccata)