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Release: Oct. 1, 1999

Organist Robert Triplett will present UI faculty recital Oct. 11

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Organist Robert Triplett will present a recital of French organ music at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

Triplett is well known in the local musical community as director of music at Trinity Episcopal Church and distinguished artist in residence at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. But for this recital he will appear in an additional role, as visiting music faculty member at the UI. He is serving a one-year appointment as a replacement for Dolores Bruch, who retired from the UI School of Music last spring.

Triplett's program will feature works by five composers, ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries, associated with the French style of organ music. The program will be: "Piece d'Orgue (Organ piece) by Louis Marchand; "Fantasie" in A major by Cesar Franck; "Pasacaille" by Frank Martin; "Pastorale" by Jean-Jules Roger-Ducasse; and "Paraphrase-Carillon" by Charles Tournemire.

In his program notes for this recital, Triplett has written, "Color is at the heart of the French creative spirit. One recalls the magnificent stained-glass windows of Chartres Cathedral, the luminous Gobelins tapestries, the paintings of Boucher, Watteau, Renoir, Monet and others. All have been interested in the play of color and its ability to generate wordless communication. So it has been with musicians. French composers have often used musical 'color' to 'paint' pictures with sounds.

"Since the great flowering of the organ in the 17th century and 18th centuries, French organists have sought to explore the unique color capabilities of this complex instrument. Whereas German, Italian and Spanish composers usually left the choice of sounds up to the performer, French composers expected a very specific color, which is governed by the choice of stops -- that is, the individual sets of pipes that are selected when playing the organ. In French music, the choice of stops was often indicated by the title, or in well known conventions of performance. This specificity for color continues in French organ music today.

"I have chosen this program to present the full palette of French musical colors."

The earliest composer on the program, Marchand was a contemporary of J.S. Bach. He was a flamboyant figure who reportedly astonished his audiences with his dramatic improvisations. As one of several organists in the service of King Louis XIV, he wrote music that is by turns grandiose, elegant, playful, decorative and consistently overlaid with profuse ornamentation -- reflecting the stylized manners at the court of the "Sun King."

Although he grew up in Belgium, Franck spent most of his life in Paris. He is associated with the development of the so-called "symphonic" style of organ composition of the 19th century. He worked with builders to develop organs that had imitative orchestral stops, including strings, flutes and trumpets. The "Fantasie" in A major is written for such an instrument.

A native of Geneva, Switzerland, Martin combined French and German influences in his music. His "Passacaille" has an intricate structure woven out of surprisingly simple ideas, for which it has been compared to the great "Passacaglia" in C minor for organ by J.S. Bach.

The "Pastorale" of Roger-Ducasse shares with Martin's work the passacaglia structure -- a piece built out of a repeating melody -- but it reflects the more relaxed world of French Impressionism. From a beginning that evokes a serene landscape, the piece develops into a virtuoso display that suggests a summer thunderstorm, then returns to the serenity of the opening.

Tournemire was a student of Franck, whom he succeeded as organist at the Church of Ste. Clotilde in Paris. He developed a style that combined the colorful, shifting harmonies of Impressionism with the mystical melodies of Gregorian chant. One of his most important works was a cycle of music for the church year, "L'Orgue Mystique" (The mystical organ). The "Paraphrase-Carillon" was written for the Feast of the Assumption and uses a composite of Gregorian melodies to paint a musical portrait of the entry of the Virgin Mary into heaven.

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."

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.