Hailed as one of this era’s most adventurous interpreters of the classical organ repertoire, leading female organist Gail Archer hosts “Concert for Peace”, a special one-night only free concert at the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Known for enthralling listeners with her musicality, sensitivity, and visceral quality, Archer introduces audiences to rarely performed works by 19th-21st century Russian and Ukrainian composers. This concert marks Archer’s latest offering in her decade-long commitment to sharing Eastern European organ literature. The concert will take place on January 19th.
Under the circumstances of the military conflict in Ukraine, this “Concert for Peace” presents an opportunity for audiences to appreciate the monumental contributions to classical music, and more specifically organ music, that have emerged over the centuries from both Ukraine and Russia. “In my own view, the organ music contributions from both countries/nationalities have been enormous, and human culture and civilization would be far poorer without them,” says Archer. “I hope this will be kept in mind particularly in this period of conflict and crisis.”
Dedicated to drawing attention to Eastern European composers through ongoing research, performances, and recordings, Archer has performed each year in Eastern Europe since 2011 resulting in her election as a faculty member at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute. From Russian halls in Tomsk, Perm, and Kislovodsk, to Ukrainian churches in Kyiv and Odessa, “the audiences at every concert were full to overflowing and the devotion and respect for classical music in both Russia and Ukraine is utterly remarkable.”
As told recently to The American Organist Magazine: “My experiences in Ukraine as a concert organist confirm that the Ukrainians are a proud and cultivated people who will courageously defend their country. The intellectual rigor and audacious creativity of the Ukrainian people are the very foundation of the strength and courage that the world is witnessing every day. They take great pride in their music, their architecture, and their culture. It should come as no surprise then that the Ukrainian people are fighting so hard right now and are willing to stand their ground against one of the largest military forces in the world, to protect the place they know and love.”
Archer’s 10 recordings span the 17th-21st centuries, a festive discography that highlights her musical mastery on grand Romantic instruments as well as Baroque tracker organs. Her trilogy of recordings (all released on Meyer Media) of contemporary organ literature from Eastern Europe was born in 2017 with the release of A Russian Journey: Music of the Russian Five that included music from the 19th-21st centuries by Russian composers Glasunow, Cui, Ljapunow, Slonimski, Shaversashvili and Mussorgsky. Archer’s Chernivts
Gail Archer is an international concert organist, recording artist, choral conductor and lecturer who draws attention to composer anniversaries or musical themes with her annual recital series including her 2021 series, A Slavic Celebration, and Max Reger, The Muse’s Voice, An American Idyll, Liszt, Bach, Mendelssohn and Messiaen. Ms. Archer was the first American woman to play the complete works of Olivier Messiaen for the centennial of the composer’s birth in 2008; Time Out New York recognized the Messiaen cycle as “Best of 2008” in classical music and opera. Her recordings include her new May 2022 release Cantius, and Chernivtsi, A Russian Journey, The Muse’s Voice, Franz Liszt: A Hungarian Rhapsody, Bach: The Transcendent Genius, An American Idyll, A Mystic In the Making (Meyer Media), and The Orpheus of Amsterdam: Sweelinck and his Pupils (CALA Records). Ms. Archer’s 2022 European tour took her to Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. Highlights include the Zuger Orgeltage, Lucerne, Switzerland, St. George Lutheran Church, Glauchau, Germany, with its fine Gottfried Silbermann organ (1730), St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Darmstadt, Germany, and the St. Christopher Music Festival, Vilnius, Lithuania.
She is the founder of Musforum, an international network for women organists to promote and affirm their work. Ms. Archer is college organist at Vassar College, director of the music program at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she conducts the Barnard-Columbia Chorus and Chamber Singers and a faculty member of Harriman Institute, Columbia University. She is artistic director of the artist and young artist recital series at historic Central Synagogue, New York City.
Concert for Peace by organist Gail Archer will be held on Thursday, January 19 at 7:00pm at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue between 50th/51st Streets in NYC. Donations are accepted. First come, first served.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Cathedral’s permanent sculpture installation, Four Popes, which includes the recently departed Pope Benedict.
Can’t make it? Tune in to a free livestream on St. Patrick’s YouTube page.
Looking back at recent Events on Fifth Avenue, NYC.