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Lorenzo Ghielmi, organ

Thursday, March 5, 2020, 8PM (Pre-concert talk at 7:15PM)

Christ Church Cathedral

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Lorenzo Ghielmi, organ


Lorenzo Ghielmi, organ


Helmuth Wolff & Associés Ltée, Opus 47, 2005

To read more about the organ, click here.


Multiple Diaposan d’or organist Lorenzo Ghielmi has prepared a superb program bridging the baroque-galant divide.  Organist of the Ahrend organ in the historic Basilica San Simpliciano, Milan, Ghielmi’s comprehensive insight of both the baroque and galant period is evidenced in an expressive selection of music fashioned to reveal the relationship between these two musical styles. 

Lorenzo Ghielmi is one of Europe’s leading musicians in the study and interpretation of music from the Renaissance and the Baroque. As organist, harpsichordist and conductor, he has performed throughout Europe, in Japan and in America, and he has made many recordings for radio (BBC, WDR, MDR, Radio France, NHK). Among his extensive discography, his recordings of Bruhns, Bach, Handel concertos and the concertos by Haydn for organ and orchestra have been awarded the "Diapason d'Or".  He teaches organ, harpsichord and ensemble music at the Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano and from 2006 to 2015 he was Professor of Organ at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel.  He conducts his own ensemble La Divina Armonia and has supervised the construction of several modern organs, including the monumental instrument in Tokyo Cathedral and that of Palma de Mallorca Cathedral.



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Aria variata alla maniera italiana       BWV 989


Domenico Scarlatti (1685 - 1757)           

Sonata in d minor  K 92

Sonata a minor K 61


Giovanni Battista Sammartini  (1701-1775)

Sonata in G major


Georg Friederich Haendel  (1685-1759)

Passacaglia in B flat major


Johann Sebastian Bach

Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654


Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785)

Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)

Sonata g minor H 87 

(Allegro moderato, Adagio, Allegro)


Johann Sebastian / Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten BWV 691a (adaptation of BWV691 by C.Ph. Emanuel Bach?)    


Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)

"Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr"


Johann Sebastian Bach

Fantasia & Fuga in c minor BWV 537


In 1737 in Leipzig a controversy involved the already famous Johann Sebastian Bach. A young musician, Adolph Scheibe attacked him, claiming that his music “could have been an object of admiration if only it had a greater pleasantness, and if he did not deprive his compositions of naturalness with a pompous and confused style and did not cloud their beauty with excessive artifice…”. In these words resonates the contrast between the aesthetics of the wise composer of the Baroque counterpoint style and that of a young musician enthusiastic about the new Italian trends that exalted simplicity as a means for the triumph of melody and natural expression.


In reality Scheibe was incorrect: even Johann Sebastian Bach had been fascinated by the melodies of the Italian composers; years before he had transcribed many violin concerts by Italian composers for harpsichord and organ, first of all those of Antonio Vivaldi.


The Aria Variata alla maniera italiana BWV 989, probably written still during his years in Weimar, develops a theme by Domenico Zipoli in a series of variations, often using simple two-part writing. The work is cataloged among the compositions for harpsichord but it is notable that the first and the last variations require the use of the pedal.


Domenico Scarlatti's Sonatas are normally considered as compositions for harpsichord: it is curious, however, that some of them carry indications of organ "stops". At the court of Madrid, where Scarlatti composed most of his sonatas, there were in fact two chamber organs alongside the harpsichords. The elegance of his compositions reminds us of the richness of the Baroque architecture which, with the advance of the century, would appear more merged in the Rococo style, with a progressive simplification of the ornaments and with a preference for delicate colors.


Italian music taught the way and among the masters of this period, the Milanese Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700-1775) was of internationally renowned in his time, and although not well known today, is considered one of the fathers of modern symphony.


Among the German composers Georg Friederich Handel was very well-acquainted with the Italian style: his operas are considered the creative summit of the tradition of Italian Baroque opera. In the organ concerts, from which the passacaglia in b flat is taken is taken, he knew how to use the melodic style and the simple and brilliant two-part writing make the sacred instrument compatible with the performances in the theater: in fact his concerts were born as interludes to the representation of Oratorios, in London theaters.


The generation of composers who grew up in the shadow of Johann Sebastian Bach could not help but confront the spiritual heritage of such a genius of music. Unique in his synthesis of various styles and with an unreachable harmonic and counterpointist ability,


none of his pupils really dared to follow his tracks. Perhaps the only one who tried was his eldest son Wilhelm Friedmann, who however died an alcoholic and neurotic, perhaps crushed by impossibility of succeeding in such an enterprise. His brother Carl Philipp, more wisely, decided to take a completely different path and to give himself to a new style that will be called "galant style". His organ sonatas were written for Princess Amalia of Prussia, a noble woman who "loved the organ very much, but was unable to use the pedals". The Sonata for organ in G minor is a three-movements composition: the contrast between piano and forte is obtained with the continuous alternation of the two organ manuals. The pedal does not have an autonomous pedal line, but only the sporadic strengthening of the bass.


Other Bach students learned to rework the master's writing, bringing it closer to the naturalness and elegance evoked by Scheibe. The Chorale of Gottfried August Homilius, active in Dresden, is written in a trio which reworks the melody of "Schmücke dich o liebe Seele", a Lutheran choral already used by Bach and beloved by Mendelssohn and Schumann.


Johann Ludwig Krebs was one of Bach's most esteemed pupils: the choral «Herzlich lieb habe ich dich» enriches a sweet melody with appoggiaturas and seems to herald the writing of Viennese classicism.

Two compositions from Bach's catalog are an interesting case of a four-handed work: the small choral BWV 691a is a variant of a composition written by Johann Sebastian in which his son Carl Philipp has interposed a series of interludes between the phrases of the choral. The Fantasy and Fugue BWV 537 is instead a composition of Bach's maturity which Bach likely did not finish; the last page of the Fugue is in fact written by Johann Ludwig Krebs.


-     Lorenzo Ghielmi (2020)


Single Tickets:

  Adults: $30

  Seniors/Students: $25


Festival Passes:

  Adults: $100

  Seniors/Students: $80 

Single Tickets and Festival Passes for the Pacific Baroque Festival can be purchased:


Online here (purchase now)

By phone:​ 250.386.5311 from the Box Office (Victoria Conservatory of Music)

In person (tickets available from November 23):

  • At the Box Office: 900 Johnson Street, Victoria BC (Victoria Conservatory of Music)

  • At the Cathedral Office: 930 Burdett Avenue)

  • And at the following outlets:

    • Ivy’s Bookshop: 2188 Oak Bay Ave.

    • Tanner’s Books: 2436 Beacon ave, Sidney

    • Munro’s Books: 1108 Government St.


Parking Information

The Cathedral is located on Quadra Street at Rockland Avenue. 

Street parking is available on Quadra Street, Burdett Avenue, and Rockland Avenue, as well as at the south entrance to the Cathedral off Burdett.





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