You may notice how the description of this man changes as his output varies. "Facets" presents the many sides of this well-known composer/pianist trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Following his graduation from the Juilliard, Jackson toured professionally for ten years with the Norman Luboff Choir and, between tours, presented his debut recital in New York’s Town Hall. His first professional tour with Luboff brought him together with Chip Davis. The two men have worked together ever since the late 1960s and founded the Grammy award-winning Mannheim Steamroller in 1973.
"Facets" calls on the artist’s many years of study at the Julliard School with his teacher and mentor, the late Josef Raieff. Raieff’s association with Rosina and Josef Lhevinne, as well as with Alexandr Siloti (a pupil of Franz Liszt) and Artur Schnabel (whose pedagogical roots go back to Beethoven), combine to present use with the complex personality of Jackson Berkey. All of these influences are present in Berkey’s mind and heard in his pianistic sound.
"Facets" was recorded over more than a ten-year period with works performed on a variety of acoustic pianos: the artist’s Steinway D, the Yamaha CFIII, and the Baldwin SD-10. Varied synthetic instruments were also used: Roland Classic 20 Harpsichord, Korg T1, M1R, and 01/WPro MusicWorkstations, Wavestation, Yamaha Clavinova CLP 760, Roland R8-M Percussion Module, Kurzweil 1000PX Plus, Proteus 2, and acoustic percussion. The harpsichord works of Bach and Scarlatti were sequenced by the artist at his writing and recording studio in Omaha.
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.