Duo combines organ and percussion in SOU concert

Organized Rhythm Duo to combine organ and percussion in SOU concert

The Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University together with the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Guild of Organists present: “An Afternoon of Organ and Percussion” on Sunday, April 24, at the SOU Music Recital Hall.

Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the concert hall will begin shaking with the vibrations of pipes and percussion at 3 p.m., featuring the award-winning, and seldom paired combination of organ and percussion known as the Organized Rhythm Duo. This combination of instruments will be the first for the Rogue Valley.

The concert will be offered in-person and live-streamed from the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University: https://youtu.be/_YzH2A0Ai3o

The Organized Rhythm Duo has dazzled audiences for more than two decades. Founded in 2004, the duo is made up of Britain-born organist Clive Driskill-Smith and Oregonian Joseph Gramley, two top musicians in their fields. Driskill-Smith is wry and reserved – until he lets loose an astonishing array of effects at the organ’s keyboard, and Gramley gracefully complements with dance-like movements across a cadre of more than a dozen percussion instruments.

Together, they captivate audiences with their explosion of energy, sound and musicality, and fill the stage with a lyrical and powerful melding of thunderous and dulcet organ pipes with the arresting and delicate aspects of percussion instruments.

Trumpet and organ: it’s been done before. Flute and organ: it’s been done before. But the “symphonic-orchestral” pairing of organ and percussion remains a rarity, making Organized Rhythm the only full-time duo of its kind anywhere in the world.

The program will open with “Beaming Music,” by innovative 21st century composer Nico Muhly, and the audience will hear dozens of world drums, cymbals, multi-keyboard melodic percussion, orchestral percussion and timpani breaking through the full organ’s sound as satisfyingly as any trumpet; the duo has found balances in which even the soft bars of the marimba meld seamlessly with the organ’s softest registers.

Recognizable classics such as Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Bizet’s “Aragonaise” (from Carmen), and Canfield’s “Pictures at a Klee Exhibition,” will round out the program which will conclude with a lively foot-stomping rendition of Copland’s “Hoe-Down.”

The inspiration to bring the Organized Rhythm Duo to the Rogue Valley for this unique musical experience, was conceived by Margaret Evans, Dean of the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and SOU’s professor emerita, who teaches organ at SOU. Evans partnered with Terry Longshore, professor of music and director of Percussion Studies at SOU. Organized Rhythm Duo is represented by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.

For information on the Organized Rhythm Duo, the artists and their music, click here.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for seniors, and free to SOU faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The OCA Box Office will open at 2:00pm – one hour before the performance for last-minute ticket sales. Tickets can also be purchased online here or by calling (541) 552-6348 or emailing boxoffice@sou.edu.

About the performers:

Joseph Gramley has had an extensive, award-winning solo and chamber music career, has taught percussion at multiple universities, collaborates and plays with major symphony orchestras, has two solo recordings, and has released eight albums. He was the associate artistic director of the Silkroad Ensemble from 2014-2017. During Gramley’s tenure, the ensemble won the 2017 GRAMMY award for “best world music” album, was nominated for “best music film” and recorded the music for Ken Burns’ documentary, “Vietnam,” for PBS.

Gramley’s versatility as a percussionist has found him performing alongside a broad cross section of artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Elton John, Michael Stern, Renee Fleming, Wu Man, Glen Velez, and Keiko Abe. Gramley’s two solo recordings, “American Deconstruction” and “Global Percussion,” represent definitive, milestone works in the modern multi-percussion canon. He is currently a professor of music in percussion at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Born in 1970, Gramley grew up in Oregon and was named a presidential scholar in the arts in 1988. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, and earned his master’s degree from Juilliard and directed its Summer Percussion Seminar for 17 years. Festival experience includes Tanglewood, Salzburg Mozarteum, Spoleto Festival, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and 15 summers at the Marlboro Music Festival.

Clive Driskill-Smith has been named “a star of a new generation” and critics have praised his “blazing technique” and “unbelievable virtuosity” and describe his performances as “intensely moving” and “truly breathtaking.” He began early as a pianist and bassoon player and later at age 15 began playing organ.

Driskill-Smith is currently the organist and choirmaster at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas – a post that he combines with an international concert career. He has performed at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Melbourne Town Hall, Westminster Abbey, The Grand Philharmonic Hall in Perm (Russia) and the National Performing Arts Center in Taipei. He has played at prominent festivals and conventions, and continues to work with acclaimed conductors.

His performances have been broadcast on the BBC (UK), NHK (Japan), Pipedreams (USA), and on radio and television throughout the world. His CDs have received critical acclaim and he has recorded albums with Peter Gabriel on Virgin Records, and with Howard Goodall on EMI Classics.

Story by Kim Andresen, Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU