Paulus: Wit, Tenderness and Virtuosity

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Stephen Paulus’ music brims with wit, tenderness, and at times, biting virtuosity.”

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Paul Jacobs, photo: Christina Wilton

On the eve of the Pacific Symphony’s program “Organ Splendor,” soloist Paul Jacobs offers a glimpse into the composer’s Organ Concerto No. 4, which is featured in concert from February 4 – 6. Music director Carl St. Clair conducts the performances as part of the orchestra’s American Composer Festival 2016. The three-movement, 29-minute concerto was commissioned and premiered by the Phoenix Symphony in 2013, with Jacobs as soloist and led by Michael Christie. Also programmed is Paulus’ choral work Pilgrims’ Hymn, which will be sung by the Pacific Chorale.

Jacobs (who also serves as “Organ Splendor” curator) continues. “There exists a rich trove of repertoire by contemporary American composers for organ and orchestra. I wanted to present a handful of those composers who have successfully embraced the organ’s own expressive voice and successfully realized it within the context of an orchestral writing…The second movement of [Paulus’ concerto] reveals [his] irresistible skill at writing inspired melodies.”

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Carl St. Clair; photo: Marco Borggreve

Carl St. Clair adds his own insight. “Our ACF is celebrating the glorious ‘King of Instruments’ — our Fisk Organ with its 4,322 pipes and 4 manuals. Closing the evening will be a touching tribute to distinguished American composer, Stephen Paulus. The Pacific Chorale and I will perform his Pilgrims’ Hymn and the concert will close with his Organ ConcertoPaulus Org Con 4 Pacific Symphony No. 4. This is a most fitting conclusion to our annual American Composers Festival…(We [also] received a special note from the Paulus Family which had deep meaning [for us].) His music will live for ‘ages and ages.’ May he rest in God’s presence.”

More February news: on February 25, the Baton Rouge Symphony performs Paulus’ Concerto for Two Trumpets and Orchestra, featuring soloists Rex Richardson and Brian Shaw, led by Timothy Muffitt.