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World Premiere Recordings From A to Z!

Organ Premieres from Appledorn to Pulitzer Prizewinning Zwilich, from Christina Harmon to Libby Larsen

CD Uncovers Many New Works Including Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Lost Organ Prelude

Hester Park’s current release is an exciting foray into the richly diverse world of organ music by women composers. This disc, almost seventy-four minutes long, primarily surveys music not previously recorded. Harbach’s previous recording of organ music by women composers (Gasparo 294), a landmark in the field, was labeled a “revelatory release” by The American Organist. In this CD, Harbach directs her attention to nineteenth century composers such as Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, and Elizabeth Stirling and well-known twentieth century composers such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Libby Larsen.

The direct-to-disk digital recording features the pipe organ of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bellingham, Washington, an installation by Portland organ builder Marceau and Associates. The disc is the first to showcase a Marceau organ.

Available nationwide through Albany Music Distributors, this release continues Hester Park’s commitment to distinctive repertoire and composers from underrepresented groups. Much of the music featured here is also available in printed editions from Vivace Press, the parent company of Hester Park. Vivace Press has been called “a singularly lively source of published music” (Fanfare) and “the standard-setting publisher of unknown music by overlooked composers” (Piano & Keyboard).

This disc contains Elizabeth Stirling’s Maestoso, a majestic march, and Barbara Harbach’s Summershimmer, which features a whimsical melody and a blazing toccata. Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Prelude for Organ in G Major was written for her own wedding. This is followed by 1983 Pulitzer Prizewinner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s massive and dramatic Praeludium, and Dallas-based composer Christina Harmon’s Built on a Rock, a tour de force interpretation of the familiar hymn. The only eighteenth century work on the disc is Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen’s Concerto I for Solo Organ, originally written for violin and orchestra. This is followed by French organ virtuoso Jeanne Demessieux’s Réspons pour le Temps de Pâques, Julia Smith’s lush, neo-Romantic Prelude in D-flat, and Dame Ethel Smyth’s chorales based on O Gott du frommer Gott. Elizabeth Stirling’s Tallis’ Canon features virtuosic counterpoint, while Libby Larsen’s Sonata in One Movement conveys a hauntingly beautiful sense of power. Clara Schumann’s Prelude and Fugue for Organ, Op. 16, no. 2 is a transcription of a work that emerged out of her study of Bach’s counterpoint. This disc closes with Mary Jeanne van Appledorn’s expansive Shabat Shalom and Christina Harmon’s ebullient and fast-paced Joyful, Joyful.

This is the latest disc to feature the musical talents of organist and harpsichordist Barbara Harbach, performer on over twenty solo and chamber compact discs with such labels as Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, and Hester Park. Professor of Music at Washington State University and Editor of Women of Note Quarterly, Harbach is recognized as a pioneer in research on women composers, beginning with her 1986 edition Women Composers for the Harpsichord with Elkan-Vogel (Theodore Presser). She is also known as host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance seen on Northwest Public Television. Musical America has called her “nothing short of brilliant” and Gramophone has cited her as an “acknowledged interpreter-and, indeed, muse-of modern harpsichord music.”

Summershimmer, a pure digital recording, is available for $15.98 at major record outlets and from Albany Music Distributors, Inc. (Box 5011, Albany, NY 12205-0011, toll-free 800-752-1951). For more information call 800-543-5429 or write Hester Park, PO Box 157, Readfield, WI 54969 for a free catalog. Or simply visit our Web page at

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