It was the summer of 1992 and Vladimir Horowitz' personal Steinway Concert Grand was on tour at Steinway dealers across the United States. The piano is called CD503. C, Steinway's indication that it is from their concert group of instruments throughout the world; D designating the size; and 503, the last 3 digits of the instrument's serial number.
As it happened, Jackson was engaged by the Omaha Steinway dealer to give a concert on this famous instrument. Why not record an album, too? Preceding the concert, on July 4th, in spite of the firecrackers, the instrument was moved to Sound Recorders where Jackson and his long-time producer-engineer, Clete Baker, worked to capture its sound. Repertoire for the recording of course included the work to be premiered in the concert following: Jackson Berkey's "Piano Derivations". The composer's song cycle, "Voices from the Earth" was also recorded, and sequenced with "American Perspective One" on the historic album.
This was the last recording made on this great instrument. And it can be yours from SDG Records®!
QUOTES & REVIEWS
"You'll discover that, far more than just an 'acquaintance’, Berkey's experience with the 503 became more like a deep friendship."
DavidVernier, CD Review
"This work is simply wonderful! We've put it into top rotation."
Rene Atkinson, WFWM-FM
“BERKEY MEETS HOROWITZ ON THE 503 "...Almeda Berkey's voice is liquid crystal..."
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
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.
ALMEDA BERKEY • CONDUCTOR / SINGER
Almeda Berkey; conductor, lyric soprano, and lyricist; co-founded Nebraska’s Professional Chorale Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum in 1988 and continues to direct its artistic endeavors. Forty-five years conducting credits include the Cantorum recordings: “Arma Lucis”, “Gaudete”, “The Mountains and The Sea”, “Arvo The Magnificat”, “American Shadows”, “Cantorum Christmas”, and “Norman Luboff Remembered:. Her Master of Music degree in voice was augmented by much conducting study, and her choral conducting style is derived from such diverse sources of inspiration as America’s Norman Luboff and Sweden’s Eric Ericson. Ms. Berkey was the American jurist for the annual International Folksong Choir Festival in Barcelona, Spain, where she conducted the Cantorum in the opening and closing concerts in 1999. For nine years Almeda served on the Board of Directors of Chorus America, an organization representing North American professional and independent choral ensembles, and on the international ChoralNet board.
After having sung many American-Canadian tours with the Norman Luboff Choir, she was Director of Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for four years. For “Berkey Meets Horowitz on the 503”, she recorded Jackson’s “Voices from the Earth” song cycle with her husband playing the Horowitz Steinway. She sang the 1990 premiere of two Berkey songs with the Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Bruce Hangen, conducting. She has also sung with the Scott Air Force Band, Captain Philip Waite, conducting. Playing keyboards with Mannheim Steamroller in concerts since 1973 has taken her across America, Canada, and Europe.
As a lyricist (ASCAP), Almeda has written texts for several choral and solo works by Jackson. She maintains a private voice studio. As the century turned, she conducted a Berkey piece for the Omaha Millennium Choir (2000 voices, trumpets, and snare drums). Ms. Berkey continues to guest conduct, including the 3379th telecast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in May 1994. She conducts Berkey premières for choir and orchestra at Carnegie Hall for Mid-America Productions. She conducted 350 voices at the première of Berkey’s ”L’Ultima Amor” for the AmericaFest 2001 International Women’s Choir Festival in Seattle. Being comfortable in all styles of music, Almeda is especially gifted at creating a diversity of tonal color and a full range of emotional intensity of the choral ensemble as she develops its complete performance potential.
DAVID LOW • CELLIST
As a soloist, David Low has captured the acclaim of critics and audiences wherever he has played, whether it is in repeat performances at Carnegie Recital Hall, in China with the Beijing Film Philharmonic Orchestra where the final concert with the orchestra was broadcast nationally across China, or in concerts in Lithuania. Legendary violinist Josef Gingold said, "He has the technique of a virtuoso plus a beautiful tone, as well as being a splendid musician." The New York Times, on his New York debut stated, "...a late-Romantic personality, sincerely passionate, evocatively intense, acute and energetic. The tone was rich, the phrasing intelligent, and he communicated his ideas with conviction."
Dr. Low is the Kayser Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he teaches cello, music history, and coaches chamber ensembles. A student of Lynn Harrell and Lev Aronson, Dr. Low holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Stanford University, and Northwestern University. Low plays a Wiebe cello which was made for him in l985.
He has recorded two solo albums, The Late Romantic Cello and Alinchino 2, as well as solo works on the American Gramaphone, SDG and American Visions labels. A cello concerto and cello sonata written for him by Jon Polifrone were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in l979 and l980. Nominated again for a l994 Pulitzer, Polifrone completed a major new cello sonata for Low which was premiered and recorded in April of the 2000-2001 season.
Low is a recipient of over two dozen grants to commission and study works for the cello from the Giger Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Nebraska Arts Council, and the University of Nebraska Foundation. His performances have been taped for Arkansas Public Broadcasting, Nebraska Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Lithuanian Broadcasting Network and the Iowa Public Broadcasting Network.
David Low has been a member of the Nebraska Arts Council Touring Program since its inception in the middle l970's and also has been on the Mid-America Arts Alliance Touring Artist program (now called Community Connections covering a 16 state region) for the last 20 years. He was the first cellist to be chosen by Mid-America for its regional touring program.
Low toured Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia in the Spring of 2002 with pianist Rimantas Vingras.
CARMELO GALANTE • Clarinet
Principal Clarinet of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, he was formerly Principal Clarinet with the Lincoln Symphony, the South Bend Symphony and the Springfield Symphony Orchestras. He has performed with the Sebago-Long Lake Festival since 1986. Other summer festivals include the Chenango Music Fest (NY), the Peninsula Music Festival (WI) and the Omaha Chamber Music Society. He studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music with James Pyne and Franklin Cohen and at the Oberlin Conservatory with Lawrence McDonald. He and his wife Lynn Castrianno, a research psychologist, have a son, Rosario and a daughter, Antonia.
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.