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Organ Virtuoso David Briggs to Present Recital at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Organ Virtuoso David Briggs to Present Recital at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine welcomes back David Briggs, organ virtuoso and Artist in Residence, to the 2019-2020 season of Great Music in a Great Space with a recital of works by Brahms, Debussy, and Elgar on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 7:30 pm at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street). Ticketholders are invited to a pre-concert talk by Briggs at 6:30 pm.

The March 10 performance includes three works transcribed for organ, including one, Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68, transcribed by Briggs himself.

The program opens with a triumphal march by Sir Edward Elgar, taken from his cantata Caractacus. Briggs says, "Many think of Sir Edward Elgar as the 'archetypal British composer.' Having said this, I suspect he would not have approved of Brexit, because of his relationship with many European conductors and composers. Elgar learnt his craft by total immersion into the scores which graced the shelves of his father's music shop: Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Strauss. He once declaimed, 'If you want to know where my music comes from, just look around you - it's in the wind.'" Caractacus was originally orchestrated for soprano, tenor, baritone and two bass soloists, full choir and orchestra, and the power of the transcription for organ retains the swaggering triumphal mood of the final scene.

The performance continues with a transcribed version of Debussy's classic Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, which, as Briggs puts it, "changed the course of music forever." The wonderful acoustic of the Cathedral adds a considerable additional dimension to this gorgeous music.

The final piece on the program is Briggs' own transcription of Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68, by Johannes Brahms. The work, one of Briggs' personal favorite pieces, is the first of Brahms' compositions he has transcribed for organ, a work of several months. Briggs says, "I have adored this work since nearly wearing out my 4LP box set of Brahms' symphonies as a teenager. With his Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Brahms secured a place alongside Beethoven in the pantheon of great composers."

Tickets are $25. Complimentary tickets are available to students by showing a student ID at the Visitor Center on the night of the concert. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit

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