Adam J. Brakel
Hailed as “an absolute organ prodigy” by National Public Radio and “one of the most talented organists in the world” by the Chicago Tribune, concert organist Adam J. Brakel is a preeminent artist “with the technique and virtuosity that most concert pianists could only dream of.” (NPR)
Adam’s celebrated performances span the globe—from coast to coast in the United States to across Europe and Asia. His expansive repertoire includes the entire spectrum of styles featuring the complete organ works of Bach, Bruhns, Buxtehude, Couperin, Liszt, de Grigny, Franck, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Duruflé.
Brakel’s performance highlights include the complete works of César Franck, and, most notably, the fiendishly difficult Six Etudes of Jeanne Demessieux, of which Adam is one of the few organists in the world to have performed and recorded in its entirety. Demonstrating his agility in style and performance, Adam has also made a concentrated study of jazz music for the pipe organ. In collaboration with American jazz pianist Dick Hyman, Adam premiered his own arrangement of Hyman’s Shenandoah and performed the American premiere of Millennial Countdown at Mr. Hyman’s personal request.
A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Duquesne University, Adam has a rich and decorated musical pedigree. His recital career was launched at a young age after being awarded an American Guild of Organists scholarship. At Duquesne University, Adam studied organ with John Walker and David Craighead, and harpsichord with Rebecca Rolle. He was appointed Associate Organist at St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral in Pittsburgh, where he was featured weekly on television broadcasts throughout western Pennsylvania. He then received further training at The Juilliard School in New York City as a recipient of the John Dexter Bush Scholarship and the Alice Tully Award. In addition to his studies, Adam was appointed Assistant Organist at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue and was featured in solo recitals at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Central Synagogue, among other Manhattan venues. While completing his master’s degree at Peabody, Adam studied under Donald Sutherland and visiting guest professor Dame Gillian Weir. He was also awarded a Graduate Performance Diploma during his time there. Concurrent with his graduate studies, he served as assisting organist at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
A fierce and exacting competitor, Adam has taken top prizes in the Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition, the Reuter/Augustana Arts Undergraduate Organ Competition, the Gruenstein Memorial Organ Competition, the John Rodland Memorial Scholarship Competition, the French Organ Music Seminar Competition, and the Carlene Neihart International Organ Competition. He has also earned the André Marchal Award for Excellence in Performance as well as the Oundle Award, among other honors.
In addition to his concert career, Adam was most recently appointed Director of Music for St. James Cathedral and the Diocese of Orlando, Florida. This appointment follows positions at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida and at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Cathedral in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida—a position he was appointed to at age 25, making him at the time one of the youngest directors appointed to a cathedral in the United States.