By Joel Hall
Beginning this Saturday, Clayton State University's Spivey Hall will open its 2008-2009 concert series with a long list of performances by artists known throughout the globe.
The season's first concert will be performed by Daniel Pyle, an adjunct instructor of music appreciation and harpsichord in the CSU Department of Music.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m., Pyle will perform a free organ concert entitled, "The Great Danes," featuring the works of German-Danish Baroque composer, Dieterich Buxtehude, and 20th-Century Danish composer, Carl Nielsen.
While primarily teaching harpsichord and music appreciation at Clayton State, Pyle is an accomplished organist, having studied at the University of Alabama, the Eastman School of Music, and the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He also will perform rarely-heard organ works on Spivey Hall's 50 foot-tall, 37 foot-wide, 4,413-pipe organ -- a far different animal from the harpsichord.
"Tuning a harpsichord takes about 20 minutes, but tuning the big organ in Spivey Hall takes about two days," said Pyle. "It takes two people, because somebody has to be sitting at the console playing the notes and somebody has to be inside the organ casing, adjusting all the pipes.
"It's a very different kettle of fish," said Pyle.
The first half of Pyle's performance will feature works by Buxtehude, a 17th Century Baroque composer predating Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Pyle said Buxtehude was so prolific in his day that Bach once walked 200 miles to spend time studying with him.
Bach famously turned a four-week vacation from an organist position at a German church into a four-month absence. "The church staff was very annoyed with him when he got back," said Pyle.
Pyle described Buxtehude's music as the "musical equivalent of really good preaching, or speech making," filled with reverberating tones and dramatic pauses.
The entire second half of the concert will feature Nielsen's sweeping organ work, "Commotio." Trained as concert violinist, Nielsen composed "Commotio" in the last few years of his life.
"It's kind of a unique blending of his symphonic style with the rhetorical, kind of gestural [sic] music of Buxtehude," said Pyle. "He starts with a few simple musical ideas and he allows them to evolve.
"It's not an easy evolution, but it has a triumphant finish," Pyle continued. "I hope they'll go away saying this music is really cool, and I want to hear more of it."
Sam Dixon, executive and artistic director of Spivey Hall, said concert-goers have much to look forward to this season, particularly with the scheduled appearances of several great piano players, such as British pianist and MacArthur Fellowship winner, Stephen Hough, on Nov. 15; Romanian pianist, Radu Lupu, on Feb. 6; and Grammy award-winning American pianist, Murray Perahia, on March 22.
"I'm really proud of the pianists that are coming this year," said Dixon. "We have some of the greatest classical pianists walking the earth coming to Spivey Hall."
Perahia, who is renown for his interpretation of the works of Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart, and Franz Schubert, will also perform a public master class with a few carefully-selected piano students from the CSU Music Department on March 21.
"For $10, people can come and see how he works with students we have yet to choose," said Dixon. "That will be a great opportunity for students to learn how he makes music."
The season will feature several special appearances, including the Atlanta debut of the New York-based Daedalus Quartet on Sept. 20; a family concert by the Vienna Boys Choir on Nov. 2; a jazz performance by the Kenny Barron Jazz Trio on Oct. 17; a Christmas concert by Empire Brass on Dec. 7; and a performance of period music by the London-based Academy of Ancient Music on March 29.
"I'm always wanting to provide audiences the opportunity to hear international musicians of the highest quality," said Dixon. "It's always great when I can bring artists to Atlanta to perform at Spivey Hall, who have never been to Atlanta and wouldn't perform in Atlanta unless it was at Spivey Hall."
For more information, go to www.spiveyhall.org.