- Stephen Tharp - Madonna della Strada Chapel, Loyola University

The Console Crier
Chicago Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

By Carl Chadek, Editor

Brilliant. Perhaps no more need to be said. Mr. Tharp nearly had his audience on its feet following his first piece. “Vers l’Esperance" from Thierry Escaich’s Trois Poèmes is fiery and difficult – an amazing pieces of “flash" for an opener. Truly exciting.
The new Goulding and Wood organ held up well on the William Thomas Best organ transcription of Mendelssohn’s Overture to the Oratorio ‘Saint Paul", Op. 36. Tharp seemed to approach the organ as a conductor rather than keyboardist for an orchestral feel.
Two movements from Widor’s Symphony No. 8 for Organ – VI Adagio and Vll Finale – were beautifully played. The four movements Tharp selected from Jeanne Demessieux’s Twelve Chorale Preludes were a smart inclusion in a varied program. Unusual, yet accessible, and nicely played featuring some lovely colors from the Goulding and Wood.
One of my favorites, Max Reger’s Fantasie and Fugue on the chorale: How brightly shines the morning star, Op. 40, No. 1, was played with such aplomb that one could almost think Mr. Tharp was improvising. Again, brilliant.

Standing ovation – encore- another standing ovation. The audience viewed Tharp’s performance on a screen set up in the front of the chapel. What fun it was to watch an amazing artist up close in the loft and still hear the performance from the floor. This recital was a real treat!