CAPE MAY PRELUDES takes the listener to Cape May, New Jersey, one of our nation's oldest seaside resorts. It is here that Mannheim Steamroller pianist Jackson Berkey takes an annual one-month composing sabbatical in quiet residence at the 100-year old "Colvmns By The Sea". Cape May is almost totally deserted in January with most of her stores, hotels and restaurants closed following the hectic Christmas and New Year's holidays. Colvmns By The Sea is no exception, although the family there lovingly receives Jackson for the month of January. Content to live in complete quiet and solitude, the composer's time at the Colvmns provides him the perfect writing environment. He often remarks that only the sound of the ocean interrupts his creative thoughts.
The sea plays an important role in CAPE MAY PRELUDES. Solo piano pieces are always interspersed with sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, heard by the composer through his room windows, almost always left open during his stay. Also premiering on CD are three sets of Wesley Picotte Windchimes. These immaculately tuned instruments appear throughout the CD and are compelling in their beauty. Jackson plays them both as solo instruments and in unstructured combinations with the sea and the piano.
"When I need to escape from the demands of everyday life, I love to listen to 'Cape May'. Jackson Berkey magically transports the listener to a tranquil state of mind. 'Cape May Preludes' capture the imagination with a diverse combination of classical styles, driving dance rhythms, jazz modes, and innovative instruments. Unexpected elements compel the listener to stop and focus...Jackson Berkey's 'Cape May' CD is refreshing and alive. Tuned wind chimes create aleotoric melodies that intertwine the diversified compositions. This is what American music is all about."
JACKSON BERKEY • COMPOSER / PIANIST
Jackson Berkey’s artistry encompasses that of an acclaimed pianist, an inventive and highly creative composer, a meticulous producer and recording artist. His range of accomplishments in music combine with a depth of talent that is formidable indeed. His New York Town Hall Debut in 1969 launched a remarkable and highly varied career.
First known as touring pianist for the Norman Luboff Choir, Jackson has recorded and toured as “Featured Keyboard Artist” with Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller for the past 30 years. With his advanced degree in performance from New York’s Juilliard School, Berkey’s musical foundation lies in the classical, sacred, and chamber genre.
His earlier American Gramaphone releases “Sunken Cathedral”, “Ballade”, and 109 featured compelling performances of classical piano works by Scriabin, Beethoven, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Persichetti. That pursuit now continues with performances of works by Scarlatti, Debussy, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. American Gramaphone’s “Holiday Musik” series offers Berkey’s performances of Harpsichord works by Domenico Scarlatti and J. S. Bach.
On SDG Records®, Jackson’s solo CD, “Facets”, includes stunning performances of many “signature” works throughout his career, including classical pieces by Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Sibelius, Beethoven, Chopin, and Fauré. On that label the artist has also released “The Mountains and The Sea”, “Berkey Meets Horowitz on the 503”, “Cape May Preludes”, “Harpsichord Carols”, and in 2004, “Atlantic Fantasy”. All CDs offer performances of original solo keyboard and instrumental works from his published catalog.
An accomplished composer, Jackson Berkey’s publications include music for solo voice, solo instruments, chamber ensemble, orchestra, symphonic band, and choir. His “Chamber Concerto for Organ, Winds, Percussion, and Strings” and his “Conversations for Harp and Chamber Orchestra” were both premièred in 2004. From solo musicians to full orchestra and multiple choirs, Berkey’s compositions create excitement through brilliant rhythmic patterns, metric modulations, and intense dance rhythms. His sensitivity to text and to both joyous and tender melodies give pleasure to every performer, including those oft-neglected players of the inner lines in ensemble music. Every musical force interacts with its musical partners, whether they be solo or duet melodies or a percussion ensemble with organ. His writing reveals careful attention to structure, form, and performance success; even with difficult-to-balance entities such as harp and orchestra. Highly evident in his intelligent and expressive solo piano works is Berkey’s unique ability to shape phrases and draw extraordinary color from the instrument.
Jackson and his wife Almeda - herself a distinguished conductor, singer, and librettist - have documented their work with SDG Records®, which also records the professional choir, Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum. Almeda conducts pristine performances of many of Jackson’s compositions, as well as beautiful music from all periods of classical music and folk music. A beautiful sampling of Luboff choral arrangements is showcased on their nostalgic “Norman Luboff Remembered”. Six other Cantorum CDs include Berkey compositions among other classical works. Also recording two CDs of Jackson’s treble choral music on SDG Records® is the internationally recognized Seattle Girls’ Choir conducted by Dr. Jerome Wright.
An ASCAP award-winning composer, Jackson’s catalog of over 300 works is enjoying hundreds of fine performances across the United States and abroad. Recent honors include First Prize in the New Music for Young Ensembles Composition Contest in New York City for his Piano “Trio Kassarjian”; the Alienor Harpsichord Festival at Hilton Head, S.C; and the Nebraska Individual Artist Fellowship for Performing Arts, Distinguished Achievement in Composition Award. Jackson Berkey appeared on the artist roster of Baldwin Piano and Organ Company for more than two decades. Performances of several of Jackson’s longer works have been conducted by Almeda in New York’s Carnegie Hall. She also conducted the world première of his “L’Ultima Amor” for triple women’s choirs, commissioned for the 400 voices of the AmericaFest 2001 International Women’s Choir Festival. Some works have been set to film and to dance, such as “ Arma Lucis”, performed at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
About SDG Records® and SDG Press®
Soli Deo Gloria - "To God, alone, the glory."
J.S. Bach used this phrase as a signature at the end of many of his works. One sees it over doorways and music instruments in Europe. SDG Press® was founded in 1985 to publish the compositions and arrangements of Jackson Berkey.
For many years, both Almeda and Jackson toured and performed with Norman Luboff, the extraordinary choral performer, composer, and publisher. It was at Norman's suggestion that the Berkeys formed "Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum" which Almeda conducts. SDG Records® was first established as the record label for the Cantorum.
Jackson Berkey also has many works published by Walton Music Corporation, Norman Luboff's highly regarded publishing company. Berkey's entire published catalog may be viewed at www.berkey.com. Click "Official Website" above.