Press Release

E. Power Biggs Memorial Organ Recital at Harvard to Commemorate the Great 20th Century Organist

Concert and Gala Reception also mark the 250th birthday of Mozart and the world premiere of a major new work by composer Daniel Pinkham
Thu, 01/12/2006 - 17:16 -- wds
Cambridge, MA
January 12, 2006

Harvard University Art Museums will present the E. Power Biggs Memorial Organ Recital on Saturday, February 4 and Sunday, February 5 at the Adolphus Busch Hall on the campus of Harvard University. Organist Richard Benefield will play a program that includes Mozart’s Adagio and Allegro (K. 594), the world premiere of Daniel Pinkham’s The Garden of the Muses, and works by Buxtehude and J.S. Bach. Saturday’s performance will begin at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a reception with cake and champagne to celebrate the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. An encore performance will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m.

One of the preeminent organists of the 20th century, E. Power Biggs (1906–1977) presented a popular CBS radio program each week from 1942 to 1958, in which he played live from Adolphus Busch Hall on an organ designed by G. Donald Harrison. This popular program and his widely-heard recordings for Columbia Records helped set new standards for organ playing and popularized a large repertory. Biggs later replaced the organ with an improved one by Dirk A. Flentrop, which in time he donated to Harvard. The 1958 Flentrop organ made famous by Biggs has remained in Adolphus Busch Hall where it is used often for recitals and concerts.

Daniel Pinkham, a recipient of six honorary degrees and current senior professor at the New England Conservatory of Music, is a prolific and versatile composer. Pinkham’s catalogue includes four symphonies and other works for large ensembles; cantatas and oratorios; concertos and other works for solo instrument and orchestra for piano, piccolo, trumpet, violin, harp, and three organ concertos; theatre works and operas; chamber music; electronic music; and 20 documentary television film scores. With The Garden of the Muses, Pinkham has composed a major new work for organ. The piece was commissioned by the Harvard University Art Museums through the generosity of Kathryn & Dr. Lee Edstrom and Richard Benefield & John F. Kunowski.

Richard Benefield, organist, singer, conductor, and musicologist, received the first doctor of musical arts degree ever awarded by the New England Conservatory of Music in 1995. He has taught on the music faculties of Baylor University, Paris (TX) Junior College, Boston University, and Providence College. His career has included a long and fruitful relationship with composer Daniel Pinkham, singing in numerous compositions in which Pinkham was conducting. Benefield has also served as both conductor and organist for many other Pinkham compositions, including a 1987 performance of the world premiere of his Sonata No. 3 for organ and strings. Dr. Benefield is currently Deputy Director of the Harvard University Art Museums, has oversight of Adolphus Busch Hall, and holds a separate appointment at Harvard as keeper of the Flentrop organ.