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Release: Sept. 1, 2000

Organist Robert Triplett will play Bach and Vierne for recital

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Robert Triplett, a visiting faculty member at the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform music from two of the greatest traditions of organ playing and composition when he presents a recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 in UI Clapp Recital Hall.

Triplett’s recital will be free and open to the public.

The first half of the program will comprise music by J.S. Bach, regarded as one of the greatest organists, and greatest composers, of European music history. Bach represents the culmination of the German Baroque school of organ playing and composition, considered the first significant peak in the history of organ music. This style emphasized the combination of independent musical lines, known as counterpoint, and clear, bright textures. The organs of the 17th and 18th centuries, made to show off a variety of distinct sounds, were ideal for this style.

Triplett will perform selections from the third part of Bach’s "Klavieruebung" (Keyboard practice), published in 1739. Described by the composer as a collection of "various preludes on the catechism and other hymns, for music lovers and especially connoisseurs of such work," the volume comprises 27 pieces, 21 of which are based on Lutheran chorale melodies. The chorales are followed by four two-part "Duetti," and the whole collection is framed by an opening prelude and a closing fugue.

Asked why Bach would write such a mixed conglomeration of pieces, Triplett says "the simple answer is that he wanted to explore various aspects of ‘ Keyboard Practice,’ just as the title indicates.

"But of course he did more. He wrote a long and complicated work that can be appreciated on different levels: for the music lover who wants simply to enjoy the pleasure of the musical sound, and for the learned connoisseur who delights in musical puzzles and hidden meanings."

Then, with considerable understatement, Triplett adds, "The latter has occupied Bach scholars for years, sometimes in spirited discussion."

Another very different peak in the history of organ music is represented by the French Romantic style of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This so-called "symphonic" style emphasized organs made to imitate the sounds of orchestral instruments, including strings, trombones, flutes and others. Music composed for these large instruments tended to emphasize sonority, massive chords and impressive sounds, all in the context of virtuoso performance.

One of the great composers of the French style was Louis Vierne, who wrote six symphonies for organ, works that may be considered the culmination of the French school, just as Bach represents the culmination of the German school. For the Sept. 17 recital, Triplett will play selections from three of Vierne’s symphonies for organ.

Triplett has appeared as recitalist throughout the United States and for national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists. He received a doctorate in sacred music from the Union Theological Seminary, following studies with several eminent organists and organ teachers. The author of numerous professional articles and several published compositions, he has taught at Maryville (Tenn.) College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His performances have been featured on the nationally syndicated radio program "Pipedreams."

His CD recording of performances on the four-manual, 65-rank Moller-Casavant organ at Cornell College was issued by Centaur records. Fanfare magazine praised the recording as "imposing and eloquent . . . full of virtuosity and panache," while the French magazine Diapason noted Triplett’s "infallible and easy virtuosity, suppleness, precision and absolute fidelity to the spirit of the text." Noted keyboard artist Igor Kipnis wrote, "There are so many intriguing aspects to this collection . . . that one does not know what to praise first. . . . (It is) an impressive accomplishment in every way."

In conjunction with his musical activities, Triplett maintains a second career as a stage-fright consultant. His presentations have attracted a wide range of fellow stage-fright sufferers, including actors, teachers, musicians, ministers, athletes, business professionals, doctors, civic leaders and even two airplane pilots.

His book, "Stagefright: Letting It Work for You," has met critical acclaim. Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck commented, "‘Stagefright’ is a book I wish I had read early in my life. The book could be called ‘Lifefright’ instead of ‘Stagefright’ because it deals with living and communicating."

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