A young, award-winning organist who grew up in Greenville in a prominent musical family returns home this weekend as the featured soloist with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Caroline Robinson will take on Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Concerto for Organ in G with the orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 10 and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 11 at First Presbyterian Church.
Greenville Symphony music director Edvard Tchivzhel will occupy the podium for the program titled “The Magic of Organ,” which also includes Tomaso Albinoni’s popular Adagio and Giuseppe Verdi’s Symphony for Strings.
Robinson is the daughter of violinist Kathleen Robinson and percussionist Gary Robinson, longtime musicians with the Greenville Symphony. Both have taught music for many years in Greenville County Schools, and Gary Robinson served for 30 years as the conductor of the Greenville County Youth Orchestras’ top ensemble.
Caroline Robinson holds the post of associate organist-choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. She has been featured as a solo recitalist in several venues across the United States, including New York City churches St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, St. John the Divine, Trinity Church Wall Street and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
In Greenville, she’ll perform C.P.E. Bach’s Organ Concerto for the first time.
“It’s a fun, challenging piece to play, very acrobatic for the soloist,” Robinson said. “I love the jaunty themes and the way the organ interacts with the strings.”
C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788) has always been overshadowed by his famous father, Johann Sebastian Bach, but the younger Bach in his day earned the esteem of such admirers as Mozart and Haydn. Bach was a transitional composer, bridging the Baroque and classical eras in music.
The three-movement organ concerto, composed in the mid-1750s, finds Bach striving for a spirited clarity, eschewing Baroque ornament and complexity.
“The first and third movements are moving in the direction of the classical era with a very clear-cut form,” Robinson said.
The concerto’s lively outer movements are balanced with a poignant, introspective second movement.
Robinson will also be the soloist in Albinoni’s Adagio, one of the undisputed “hits” of the Baroque era. The gently melancholy piece, with its long-lined melody, actually may not have been written by Albinoni at all but by his biographer, Remo Giazotto. The work has popped up in countless films, including “Rollerball” (1975), “Gallipoli” (1981), “Flashdance” (1983) and “The Doors” (1999). Singer Lara Fabian, meanwhile, made a soaring pop version of the piece in 1999.
Robinson is active as a solo performer. Her playing has been broadcast on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams,” “Pipedreams LIVE!” and Philadelphia-based public radio station 90.1 WRTI’s Wanamaker Organ Hour. She has been a featured performer at conventions of the Organ Historical Society and the American Guild of Organists.
She is the Second Prize Winner of the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP). Robinson holds First Prize from the 11th annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival (2008) and from the 10th annual West Chester University Organ Competition (2010).
Robinson completed her undergraduate work at the Curtis Institute of Music. Aided by a grant from the J. William Fulbright fellowship fund, Robinson studied at a conservatory in Toulouse, France for a year. She earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Master of Music in Organ Performance and Literature degree from the Eastman School of Music.
This weekend’s program concludes with Verdi’s Symphony for Strings, the only extended instrumental composition by the popular Italian opera composer.
Paul Hyde writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
See the show
What: “The Magic of Organ,” featuring The Greenville Symphony Orchestra; Caroline Robinson, organ soloist; Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 10; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 11
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 200 West Washington Street
Tickets and Info: 864-467-3000