Well-known organist to perform

Organist Calvert Johnson will perform early Spanish organ music and music by Bach  and women composers at Bates at 7:30 p.m. March 10th in the Bates College Chapel. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

A professor of music, college organist and chair of the music department at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., Johnson teaches organ, harpsichord, sacred music, music theory and women in music.

Johnson will open the evening with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, S. 564, in which he will showcase the composer’s ability to employ conventional forms and techniques to achieve new creative ends. The music reflects a blending of North German and Italian elements.

For the second part of the program, Johnson will play early Spanish organ music by four 17th-century composers: Gaitilla de mano izquierda by Sebastián Durón; Tiento de primero tono de mano derecha by Pablo Bruna; Cancion para la Corneta con el Eco, compiled by Antonio Martín y Coll; and Batalla de sexto tono by José Jiménez. Seventeenth-century Spanish organs were notable for their use of divided keyboards, which permitted the organist to play a solo with one hand and the accompaniment with the other on a single manual.

The final part of the program will showcase the music of 19th- and 20th- century women. Johnson will perform works by Fanny Hensel, composer of her own wedding processional and recessional; nuns Gracia Baptista and Caterina Assandra, of Spain and Italy respectively, who composed in monasteries, the only setting in which the church allowed women to participate as music leaders; Ethel Smyth, England’s most prolific female organ composer; Jeanne Demessieux, a virtuoso performer and organ professor at Liège Conservatoire; Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for music composition; and Florence Price, the first African American woman to win recognition as a classical composer.

Johnson will conclude his performance with Symphony VI, op. 42, by Charles- Marie Widor.

Johnson earned a master’s and doctoral degrees in organ performance at Northwestern University. From 1977 to 1986 he was a member of the music faculty at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and organist of St. Basil’s Episcopal Church in Tahlequah, Okla.

Through the Fulbright-Hays program and a French government grant, he studied contemporary music at the Toulouse Conservatoire where he was awarded the Premier Prix (Médaille d’Or.)

A specialist in early keyboard music, Johnson has performed and lectured widely throughout Europe, the United States and Mexico. The author of numerous journal articles, he has written six volumes on Spain, Italy, England, Holland, Portugal and France for the period 1550-1830 in the series Historical Organ Techniques and Repertoire: An Historical Survey of Organ Practices and Repertoire.

Johnson has also made several recordings for the Calcante label.

For additional information about the concert, call the Olin Arts Center at 207-786-6135.

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