On March 5, Memorial Church's organ recital series continues with a free and open to the public celebrity performance by acclaimed organist Nathan Laube, artist-in-residence at the American Cathedral in Paris. Having spent the past several years studying and performing in France and Germany, Laube embraces the new challenge brought by performing in an American colonial church. “What's so fascinating is coming to a new place where all of these foreign variables have been introduced,” he says. “Memorial Church is not a big French cathedral, a chamber music hall, or a little court with royalty adorning the sides of the building.... We have to really reinvent the music in a new space and within a new context.”
The performance is part of a series inaugurating the pair of new organs Memorial Church acquired past two years. “I've spent hours and hours thinking about what to play in this venue and on these two organs,” Laube says. He has chosen pieces to fit the distinct personalities of Memorial Church's two instruments, he says.
On the smaller, 1929 Skinner organ he will play German neoclassical composer Paul Hindemith's first organ sonata, written less than a decade after the instrument was built. “[The piece ] will give us an opportunity to hear all the subtle details, special effects, and little decadent colors you get with an organ that aspires to be more of a symphony orchestra than a classical pipe organ,” Laube says.
For the newer Fisk organ he has selected a more eclectic program—Bach, Duruflé, and Mozart, among others—designed to showcase the instrument's tonal flexibility. “[The Fisk] allows you a greater degree of authenticity in terms of entering many different sound worlds within the context of one instrument,” Laube says. “You can get the illusion of a French organ [or] a large German baroque organ.”
Laube will join the faculty of the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music in New York this fall. In addition to his concert, he will be teaching a master class for Harvard organ students at Memorial Church on March 3.