Premiere Music and Dance Performance, Art Show Celebrate 25th Anniversary of UA’s Holtkamp Organ
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A big pipe organ deserves a big birthday party. So for the 25th anniversary of the Holtkamp organ in the Concert Hall of Moody Music Building, The University of Alabama will present the world premiere of “The Freese Collection,” performed by Dr. Faythe Freese, UA professor of organ.
The NALL art show and three identical concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, Thursday, Jan. 24, and Friday, Jan. 25, in the Concert Hall. Tickets are $12 and $18. The Jan. 23 event includes a reception and concert. Tickets for this combined event are $30.
Installed in 1988, the 86-rank, 65-stop Holtkamp Organ, Opus 2005, is considered a milestone work by the Cleveland-based organ maker and is featured prominently on its website. Freese appreciates the powerful sounds the organ produces.
“They broke the mold on this organ,” Freese said. “It is their magnum opus and is a world-class instrument. The colors of the instrument are vast, much like having an orchestra at your fingertips. As a performer, I can match and exceed the volume of any orchestra playing in Moody.”
Freese commissioned “The Freese Collection” from composer and organist Dr. Pamela Decker, professor of organ and music theory at the University of Arizona. It features three movements. As inspiration, Decker used three music-themed works of art by NALL, a Fairhope artist who is a UA graduate. NALL’s artwork will be on display in the Moody lobby before the performances.
Each movement of Decker’s piece reflects one of NALL’s pieces in Freese’s art collection – a cross made up of discarded organ pipes from a Fairhope church; a watercolor of flowers; and a violin with an eye staring out from the sound hole. Decker saw the works in Freese’s home when Decker performed during the 2010 Church Music Conference; Freese then commissioned Decker to write “The Freese Collection” for the 2013 anniversary of the Holtkamp organ.
“The first movement, ‘Augenmusik,’ which is inspired by the violin artwork, starts out as a tango, which is typical of Decker’s works,” Freese said. “Then the next movement is ‘Iris and Poppy,’ a tango, inspired by the watercolor that is in my dining room. The third movement is ‘The Cross of Faith,’ based on the cross made of organ pipes. The movement begins with a samba and the notation forms crosses in the music, much like Bach notated ‘crosses’ into his composition. If you look at the music, the notes form ‘cross.’ Decker has notated crosses all over the place.”
The strong dance elements and rhythms of “The Freese Collection” drive Freese to seek inspiration for her performance.
“I’m constantly looking at performances on YouTube of Latin American samba and tango dances,” Freese said. “I want to evoke the proper emotion of the dance. It must be rhythmically energized.”
Those strong dance elements in the music inspire other UA faculty members in this interdisciplinary performance as well. In addition to the organ performance and the art show, about 25 members of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre will perform to “Collection” as well as two other compositions Freese will play – “Blithely Breezing Along” by Stephen Paulus and a piece from “L’Orgue Mystique” by Charles Tournemire.
Choreographers are Cornelius Carter, UA professor of dance; and Rita Snyder and Sarah M. Barry, UA associate professors of dance. Barry said the three choreographers divided up the music, but the resulting choreography represents a seamless weaving of styles and moods.
“This is certainly a first for me,” Barry said. “What was really inspiring was when the faculty went over to Moody. Faythe played the music live on stage. Listening to her play, it’s such a grand space, and the music really filled it.”
Registration for the 2013 UA Church Music Conference is $95 before Friday, Jan. 18 and $105 thereafter. The conference will feature not only an organ concert with Freese and the first place winners of the piano and organ scholarship competition at 7:30 p.m. Friday but also a choral concert with the University Singers, under the direction of Dr. John Ratledge, at 4:30 pm. Saturday, Jan. 26, in the Concert Hall.
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 seniors and $3 students. For more events, go to http://music.ua.edu/departments/organ/church-music-conference/.
“The Freese Collection” commission received funding from the College Academy of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity; the Office of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; the UA School of Music; the UA theatre and dance department; the Office of Research and Development, the UA department of art and art history; and the Creative Campus Initiative.
UA’s College of Arts and Sciences is the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.