Winthrop's March 25 Organ Series to Welcome German Musicians Who Are Leading Authorities on Bach, Karg-Elert

February 06, 2017

Quick Facts

bullet point Winthrop University's International Organ Series brings to campus two German musicians who share a Leipzig connection for a March 25 event entitled "Bach and Beyond - the Leipzig Organ Tradition."
bullet point Christoph Wolff is considered the greatest living authority on J.S. Bach and Stefan Engels is an expert on the works of Sigfrid Karg-Elert.
bullet point The March 25 event will include a master class, lecture and recital on the famed D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ.

/uploadedImages/news/Articles/christophwolff.gifChristoph Wolff/uploadedImages/news/Articles/SEngels5X7.gifStefan EngelsROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — Leipzig, Germany's city of music, is home of J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, the famous St. Thomas Choir, the Gewandhaus orchestra, noted organ composers Max Reger and Sigfrid Karg-Elert, as well as the virtuoso organist Karl Straube at the historic St. Thomas Church.

Winthrop University's International Organ Series brings to campus two German musicians who share a Leipzig connection for a March 25 event entitled "Bach and Beyond - the Leipzig Organ Tradition." Christoph Wolff, the greatest living authority on J.S. Bach, and Stefan Engels, an expert on the works of Sigfrid Karg-Elert, will delight and inform organ and music enthusiasts during a master class, lecture and recital on the famed D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ.

The three events are made possible through the Friends of D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ Performance Fund, established by Hazel Bailes Somerville '69 and her husband, Murray, in 2015, and the German Language and Cultural Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wolff is the Adams University Research Professor at Harvard University and Visiting Professor at the Juilliard School in New York. He serves as president of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales, an international non-profit organization that documents extant sources of music all over the world. He also is the former director of the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig. In 1984 he discovered and edited for publication the "Neumeister," a collection of chorale preludes by Bach, one of the most important Bach discoveries of the 20th century. In 1999 he and his wife, Barbara, located the long-lost Berlin Sing-Akadamie archive, begun by Bach's son, composer C.P.E. Bach. In addition, he was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in biography for "Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician."

Engels is a professor of organ at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He was founder and artistic director of the European Organ Academy Leipzig, attracting faculty and students from around the world. As an advocate and specialist for the music of the late-Romantic German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert, he also founded the Karg-Elert Festival in Leipzig, demonstrating and discovering the unique works of this Leipzig composer. In 2015 he finished the world premiere recording of the complete organ works of Karg-Elert. Engels maintains a vigorous international concert schedule and is a sought-after teacher. He achieved international acclaim when he was awarded the Concerto Gold Medal at the 1998 Calgary International Organ Competition.

"Bach and Beyond - the Leipzig Organ Tradition" is the latest offering by Winthrop's International Organ Series. The series also welcomed, in 2016, James O'Donnell, organist and master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey, for a performance on the D.B Johnson Memorial Organ.

The Somervilles, along with the Department of Music, have worked to bring visiting musicians of the highest caliber to Winthrop.

Hazel Somerville, a music student at Winthrop who served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University as artistic director of the children's choruses at the Blair School of Music, shared how pleased she and her husband are to welcome Wolff and Engels.

"It's an honor for us to enable the D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ to once again be heard in regular concerts, especially with music that is so well suited to this particular instrument. We're thrilled to welcome in 2017 not one but two renowned musicians - Christoph Wolff and Stefan Engels - to share their knowledge and skills with Bach admirers as well as fans of the German organ tradition."

The March 25 activities include:

10 a.m. -- A master class that is open to organ students at area colleges and the general public. The class, taught by Wolff and Engels, will feature Bach's "Das Orgelbüchlein" and "Neumester Chorales." The class will be held in the Frances May Barnes Recital Hall and will feature the Gabriel Kney organ. Co-sponsored by the Charlotte chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

2 p.m. -- A lecture by Wolff on "The Leipzig Organ Tradition — From J.S. Bach to Karg-Elert." 

4 p.m. -- An organ recital by Engels featuring the music of Bach, Mendelssohn, Karg-Elert and Max Reger. The recital will be performed on the D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ in Byrnes Auditorium.

The D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ, an Aeolian-Skinner, was installed in 1955. Famed Aeolian-Skinner tonal designer G. Donald Harrison designed the organ from top to bottom. It was the last complete installation he worked on before he passed away, making it one of very few in the world fully designed by Harrison. It is considered one of the most historic instruments in the Southeast. The organ was sent to the Letourneau Organ Company in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada, in May 2007 for a complete restoration.

Admission to all three events is $25. Individual events are $10 per event. Student admission is $5 per event. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Department of Music at 803/323-2255.

For more information, please contact Clara Godshall at 843/697-6978 or e-mail

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