Organ Symphony

April 22, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

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Elizabeth Forsyth, Organ

Elizabeth Forsyth, Organ

In a first for the Folsom Lake Symphony, and rare for any orchestra, the repertoire for our April 22 concert, Organ Symphony, will feature classical organ music performed by guest soloist Elizabeth Forsyth.

The evening consists of three compositions, one without an organ, Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, and two with: George Handel’s Organ Concerto in B-flat major, op. 4, no. 6 and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Organ” Symphony (Symphony No. 3).

A San Francisco native, Elizabeth is the organist for the First Congregational Church in Berkeley and teaches organ and piano. She has been a guest organist throughout the Bay Area and at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and each August leads classes at the Brigham Young University Organ Workshop. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organ performance from BYU.

Brahms wrote the Academic Festival Overture during the summer of 1880 after being requested to compose a symphony in honor of receiving his honorary doctorate in music from the University of Breslau. The music blends serious and light-hearted, sometimes comedic, elements, including excerpts from college drinking tunes, leading the composer to describe the piece as “a very boisterous potpourri of student songs.” He conducted the premier performance at the university in 1881.

Handel’s “Organ Concerto” being performed for this program is one of six he published in 1735 and 1736. Handel himself was an organist and introduced the chamber organ into his oratorios to reinforce the voices of the chorus. His use of the organ with other instruments served as a model for later composers.

Saint-Saens’ “Organ” Symphony was the composer’s last attempt at the symphonic form. After writing it, in the early 1880s, he declared he had given “everything to it I was able to give.” It was first performed in London in 1886 and dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt after that composer died two months later. It is scored for both organ and piano. It may sound familiar. The music has been recorded in several versions and was featured as the main theme in the “Babe” movies and can be heard in “How to Get Ahead in Advertising.”

Organ Symphony will be performed April 22, 7:30 p.m., at the Harris Center theater on the campus of Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway.

Tickets are sold online, by call 916-608-6888 or by visiting the theater ticket office.