Stephen Tharp, “The Perfect Virtuoso…..” Die Abendzeitung, München, Germany
Stephen Tharp, hailed as “the organist for the connoisseur” (Organ magazine, Germany), “the thinking person’s performer” (Het Orgel), “every bit the equal of any organist” (The American Organist magazine) and “the consummate creative artist” (Michael Barone, Pipedreams), is recognized as one of the great concert organists of our age. Having played 32 solo intercontinental tours and over 800 North American concerts, Stephen Tharp has built one of the most well-respected international careers in the world, earning him the reputation as the most traveled concert organist of his generation.
He is listed in the 2008 edition of Who’s Who in America and was recently heard as a solo artist during the 2008 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.
His list of performances since 1987 includes such distinguished venues as St. Bavo, Haarlem; The Royal Albert Hall, London; St. Eustache, Paris; Ste. Croix, Bordeaux; The Hong Kong Cultural Centre; the Town Halls of Sydney and Adelaide, Australia; Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow; the Tonhalle, Zurich; the Duomo, Milano, Italy; the cathedrals in Köln, München, Münster and Passau, and the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany; Antwerp Cathedral, Belgium; Dvorak Hall, Prague; the Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland; The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; The Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, CA; The Riverside Church, New York City; Rice University, Houston; Spivey Hall, Atlanta; Severance Hall, Cleveland; and Symphony Center, Chicago.
He has given master classes at Yale University; Westminster Choir College; the Cleveland Institute of Music, Bethel University (St. Paul, MN); the Hochschulen für Musik in Stuttgart, Trossingen and Bochum (Germany); and for chapters of the AGO. He has also adjudicated for competitions at the Julliard School and Northwestern University.
Stephen Tharp remains an important champion of new organ music, and continues to commission and premiere numerous compositions for the instrument. The first such piece was Jean Guillou’s symphonic poem Instants, Op. 57, which Tharp premiered at King’s College, Cambridge, England in February 1998.
Works subsequently dedicated to him include David Briggs’ Toccata “Labyrinth” (2006); Samuel Adler’s Sonata (2005); Eugenio Fagiani’s Stèle (2003); Thierry Escaich’s Trois Poèmes (2002); Philip Moore’s Sinfonietta (2001); Anthony Newman’s Tombeau d’Igor Stravinsky (2000), Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on BACH (1999) and the Second Symphony (1992); Martha Sullivan’s Slingshot Shivaree for Organ and Percussion (1999); and Morgan Simmons Sequencia Pedalia (1995).
Himself a composer, Tharp was commissioned by Cologne Cathedral, Germany to compose for Easter Sunday, 2006 his Easter Fanfares for the inauguration of the organ’s new en chamade Tuba stops.
In April 2008, Stephen Tharp was named the Official Organist for the NY visit of Pope Benedict XVI, playing for three major events attended by more than 60,000 people that were broadcast live worldwide.
Mr. Tharp’s playing has also been heard on both English and Irish national television, on Radio Prague, orgelnieuws.nl in the Netherlands, and in the U. S. on American Public Media’s Pipedreams. In November 2005, Pipedreams broadcast an entire programme dedicated exclusively to his career, making him one of the few organists in the world so honoured.
He is also an active chamber musician nationwide, having performed on organ, piano and harpsichord with artists such as Thomas Hampson, Itzhak Perlman, Jennifer Larmore, Rachel Barton Pine, the American Boychoir (James Litton, conductor), the St. Thomas Choir (John Scott, conductor, in Duruflé’s Requiem), and at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. His solo organ recordings can be found on the JAV, Aeolus, Naxos, Organum and Ethereal labels, and are available from JAV Recordings and the Organ Historical Society.
Stephen Tharp earned his BA degree, magna cum laude, from Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL and his MM from Northwestern University, Chicago, where he studied with Rudolf Zuiderveld and Wolfgang Rübsam, respectively. He has also worked privately with Jean Guillou in Paris. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Grace Church (Episcopal), New York, where he works with Patrick Allen, Organist and Master of Choristers within a diverse music program involving both boys and girls choristers, a professional adult choir, and an extensive concert series. He also served as Organist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1995-1997 and the Associate Organist at St. Bartholomew’s, NYC, from 1998-2002.