On Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 12:15 p.m., William Tortolano, Saint Michael’s College organist emeritus and fine arts/music professor emeritus, will present a concert titled “Music in a Great Space,” as his Annual Organ Recital in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel on campus.
Tortolano will be performing his program on the chapel’s distinctive Casavant organ that he helped design, and which next year (along with the Chapel) will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Tortolano said the program for this year’s recital is designed to show off a rich sample of the eclectic sounds of the organ. The first composition is “Music from the film score: Richard II,” (March, Elegy, Schergetto); followed by Three Organ Preludes by Reuven Kosakoff, all based on Jewish liturgical scales. These Kosakoff preludes are titled “A Trio Studying the Scripture (Ahavoh Rabboh Mode), “Praise Him with Song and Dance (Adonoy Moloch Mode), and Theme and Variations (Mogen Ovos Mode).
The organist next will perform two arrangements of spirituals with jazz-inspired harmonies by the famous pianist George Shearing: “Jerusalem, My Happy Home” and “There is A Happy Land.” Then a Saint Michael’s music student, soprano Rosemary Rogers, will sing “Ave Maria” by Marcel Dupre, accompanied by Tortolano.
The last composition on the program is “Sonata per Organo” by Vincenzo Bellini, a famous bel canto opera composer who wrote the organ composition to honor his mother shortly after her death. This is possibly the first American performance of the work, which is operatic in character, Tortolano said. The concert is free and open to the public.
Tortolano also will conduct and perform for a concert in Stowe on Tuesday, June 9 at the Stowe Community Church at noon -- also free and open to public with an optional fee for charity. This concert will consist of: The Vermont Gregorian Chant Schola in residence at Saint Michael’s College, under Tortolano’s direction, singing the Mass of the Angels, from the Middle Ages. Next on that program will be Jan Salzman, assistant rabbi and cantor from Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, sing Jewish liturgical music, along with some Jewish folk songs that she will invite the audience to sing with her. Then, Dr. Tortolano perform, on the church’s historic organ, three pieces by Reuven Kosakoff based upon Jewish liturgical modes.
Tortolano had a 50-year teaching veteran at the College where he founded the Saint Michael’s College Chorale in 1970. He was recipient of the Papal Honor: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict for his contribution to Gregorian chant, and conducts the Vermont Gregorian Chant Schola. Founded 15 years ago by Tortolano, the Schola has given more than 100 concerts and sacred services in New England, Quebec and on public television.