A pair of West Virginia University music faculty will follow in the footsteps of a legendary musician to best capture her music.
Boulanger was one of the leading musicians of the 20th century, an influential teacher along with being a gifted pianist and organist. She played the legendary organ at L’�glise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, a church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
Mauro and Benincosa are recording an album of music composed by Boulanger, and they’ll be recording her organ music at the Madeleine in October with the support of a WVU Senate Research Grant.
“Like most classical musicians, I have been interested in the enormous influence Boulanger had on 20th-century music and her fame as a teacher of composers like Aaron Copland,” Mauro said. She started looking into Boulanger’s own compositions and found that much of her repertoire was not recorded.
“I contacted the Center for Nadia and Lili Boulanger (CNLB) in Paris which manages her estate and they liked the idea of a possible recording,” Mauro said.
“It really will be an historic experience, the Madeleine, the organ and the wonderful organist playing, who has done 70 recordings and who will be playing the instrument Nadia Boulanger played,” said Mauro.
Fran�ois-Henri Houbart, the official organist of the Madeleine, will perform Boulanger’s works on the historic organ built in 1845 by Aristide Cavaill�-Coll, who Mauro describes as “perhaps the most important organ builder in the 19th century.”
“For me, the excitement comes with taking a historic instrument and location and capturing that in a way that allows everyone to experience it without necessitating a trip overseas,” said Benincosa. His goal is to be faithful to the acoustic space of the church and give the impression that the listener is there.
“In my mind, I’d also like it to be a bit of a time traveling experience,” he added. “We may not be able to sit and listen to Boulanger play, but we can do wonderful things with technology to almost transport us to that time period with music and sound.”
The technical challenges include traveling with minimal equipment but still capturing the authentic sound of the organ. Fortunately, technology keeps getting better.
“Now, I will be able to take a small Pro Tools system, some incredible mics, and a solid state backup system all in less space than a suitcase,” Benincosa said. “Actually, I’ll probably put the mics in my carry on because I’m very protective of them.”
With that recording secured, Mauro and Benincosa will return to Morgantown and complete the rest of the project. The collection of Boulanger’s music will eventually be released on CD by Delos.
CONTACT: David Welsh, WVU College of Creative Arts
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