Gail Archer is an international concert organist, recording artist, choral conductor and lecturer.
In spring 2010, she celebrated the 325th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach with six concerts around New York City, concluding with the Art of Fugue at Central Synagogue.
Lucid Culture proclaimed, "Like the composers she chooses, Archer's playing spans the range of human emotions---with Bach, there's always plenty to communicate, but this time out it was mostly an irresistibly celebratory vibe."
In 2009, her spring series, Mendelssohn in the Romantic Century, was inspired by Mendelssohn's extraordinary versatility as composer, conductor, performer and scholar and included the organ music of his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann. The series was recorded live and is available on-line at Meyer-Media.
Ms. Archer was the first American woman to play the complete works of Olivier Messiaen for the centennial of the composer's birth in 2008.The New York Times declared, "Ms. Archer's well-paced interpretation had a compelling authority. She played with a bracing physicality in the work's more driven passages and endowed humbler ruminations with a sense of vulnerability and awe." Time-Out New York recognized the Messiaen cycle as "Best of 2008" in Classical music and opera.
Ms. Archer's recordings span the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, a festive discography that highlights her musical mastery on grand Romantic instruments as well as Baroque tracker organs. Her most recent compact disc, Bach, the Transcendent Genius, celebrates the brilliant improvisations on Lutheran hymn tunes of the "Great 18" chorale preludes (MM1013). The release on Meyer-Media, is the first recording on the Paul Fritts tracker organ at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York.
An American Idyll, released by Meyer Media in August, 2008 (MM08011), and recorded on the E. M. SkinnerRandall Dyer organ at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, features American organ music from 1900 to the present, including music by Joan Tower and a work commissioned by Ms. Archer, Praeludium super Pange Lingua by David Noon.
Her centennial concerts in honor of Olivier Messiaen also produced A Mystic In the Making (MM07007), recorded on the Aeolian-Skinner organ at Columbia University, which includes two complete cycles, L'Ascension, and Les Corps Glorieux.
Her solo debut CD, The Orpheus of Amsterdam: Sweelinck and his Pupils (CACD 88043), recorded on the Fisk organ at Wellesley College, was released in 2006 by London's CALA Records.
Ms. Archer recorded works of Bach along with narration read by Robert Thurman as part of a project for the Tennessee Players and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Words of Albert Schweitzer and the Music of Bach. A live concert recording made at the Organalia Festival in Turin, Italy was released in 2005.
During the 2009-2010 season, Ms. Archer promoted her new recording, Bach, the Transcendent Genius; highlights include recitals at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Exeter College, Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, Luther College, Shorter College, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, MO and St. Joseph R. C. Church, Macon, Georgia.
Ms. Archer is college organist at Vassar College, and director of the music program at Barnard College, Columbia University where she conducts the Barnard-Columbia Chorus. She serves as director of the artist and young organ artist recitals at historic Central Synagogue, New York City.
More at www.gailarcher.com
Photo by Buck Ennis.