May 18, 2012 in Features

Organist Archer headlines recital

She also serves as adjudicator at Musicfest
Donivan Johnson Correspondent

Gail Archer is the organist at Vassar.
(Full-size photo)

If you go

What: Gail Archer organ recital; the winner of the Musicfest Northwest organ competition also will play

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 12th Ave.

Cost: $10, available through TicketsWest outlets, or (800) 325-SEAT

International concert organist and recording artist Gail Archer will perform a recital Sunday that features music by American composers: Horatio Parker, Charles Ives, Joan Tower, Samuel Barber and William Bolcom.

Archer is in town as the organ adjudicator for the 67th annual Musicfest Northwest in Spokane. This year nearly 1,200 participants in ballet, brass, flute, guitar, organ, piano, reed, string and voice performed for judges during the week. The winner of the organ competition also will perform on Sunday.

Archer is college organist at Vassar College and director of the music program at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she conducts the Barnard-Columbia Chorus.

Archer was the first American woman to play the complete works of modern French master Olivier Messiaen for the centennial of the composer’s birth in 2008, a performance the New York Times praised: “Ms. Archer’s well-paced interpretation had a compelling authority. She played with a bracing physicality in the work’s more driven passages and endowed humbler ruminations with a sense of vulnerability and awe.”

She has played throughout the Northwest and will be participating in the Bach Festival at the University of Idaho this year, she said.

The recital will start with Horatio Parker’s Sonata in E flat Minor. This work, composed in 1908, will be followed by “Variations on America,” composed by Charles Ives as a teen. Parker was Ives’ composition teacher at Yale.

This recital will also feature settings of hymn tunes by Samuel Barber and William Bolcom, a Northwest native.

A reception sponsored by the Spokane Chapter of The American Guild of Organists will follow the concert.

Donivan Johnson, who lives in Metaline Falls, is a composer, lecturer and music instructor for the Selkirk School District.

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