Christopher Marks, interim dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and professor of organ in the Glenn Korff School of Music, will present three interconnected programs titled “G is for Goldberg.” The programs will feature keyboard music in G major by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The main portion of each program will consist of the “Goldberg Variations,” written by Bach late in his life and first published in 1741. Each program will be presented on a different keyboard instrument — organ, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at St. Mark’s on the Campus; harpsichord, 3 p.m. Jan. 23 in Westbrook Room 119; and piano, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in Kimball Recital Hall. The concerts are free and open to the public.
The Jan. 23 recital will also be live webcast. Visit https://music.unl.edu/webcasts the day of the performance for the link.
“The Goldberg Variations are widely recognized as one of the greatest pieces ever written for keyboard instrument,” Marks said. “Originally intended for the harpsichord, the piece came to popular attention in the late 1950s through the famous recording by pianist Glenn Gould and has been a staple of the repertoire ever since.”
The piece is known for its extreme technical demands, which were highly innovative at the time of its composition.
“But the piece is also known just as much for its compositional achievements and represents unparalleled writing in Baroque counterpoint,” Marks said. “It is performed on piano, harpsichord, and organ, but rarely ever on all three by the same person in the same week. Hearing the piece even once is a rare treat; this is a unique opportunity to hear the different aspects of it that each instrument brings out and how the performer responds differently to each.”
In addition to the Goldberg Variations, the program also includes Bach’s Fantasia in G Major (organ only) and Two Preludes and Fugues in G Major from “Well Tempered Clavier” (harpsichord and piano only).
An active proponent of new music Marks has premiered a number of commissioned organ works. His performances have garnered him top prizes in competitions, including the Arthur Poister Competition, the San Marino Competition, the Fort Wayne Competition and the Mader Competition.
Marks is active as a performer, teacher and writer, having published articles on performance practice, organs, and professional concerns. He has performed at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society and has participated in more than a dozen Pipe Organ Encounters. He served on the Board of Directors of the Organ Historical Society from 2009 until 2017 and served as chair 2015-2017.
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