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Davitt Moroney to Perform with Magnificat

For our performances in February, Magnificat will be joined by organist Davitt Moroney who will perform works by Froberger, Scheidt, and others. Magnificat worked with Davitt last summer in two memorable performances at the Berkeley Early Music Festival.

Davitt was born in England in 1950. He studied organ, clavichord, and harpsichord with Susi Jeans, Kenneth Gilbert and Gustav Leonhardt. For over twenty years he was based in Paris, working primarily as a freelance recitalist in many countries. In 2001 he moved to California as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is Professor of Music, University Organist, and Director of the University Baroque Ensemble.

His scholarly career started with a study of the vocal music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd for his doctoral thesis (UC Berkeley, 1980), and has ranged widely over repertoires from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with particular attention to the music of Byrd, Bach, and various members of the Couperin family. His many scholarly editions include Bach’s The Art of Fugue with his own completion of the final unfinished fugue (Henle, 1989), the complete harpsichord works of Louis Couperin (1985) and of Louis Marchand (1987), as well as the collection of harpsichord pieces by Purcell discovered in 1994, now known as the “Purcell Manuscript” (1999). His monograph Bach, An Extraordinary Life—a short introduction to the composer’s life and works—was published by ABRSM Publishing in 2000 and has since been translated into French, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Romanian, and Dutch. In 2005 he rediscovered Alessandro Striggio’s long-lost Mass in 40 and 60 Parts, dating from 1565-66; he conducted the first modern performance of this massive work at London’s Royal Albert Hall in July 2007 and conducted two further performances at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in June 2008. His recent published articles have been studies of the music of François Couperin and Alessandro Striggio. This year he is also visiting director of a research seminar in Paris at the Sorbonne’s École pratique des hautes études.

His international performing career has lead him in recent years to give organ and harpsichord masterclasses at the Paris Conservatoire, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, the Juilliard School in New York, and Oberlin Conservatory, as well as in South Korea, Finland, Belgium, and Switzerland. Other recent concerts have included recitals in Germany, Holland, Italy, England, and Scotland. He is regularly invited as a jury member for international organ and harpsichord competitions.

He has made nearly sixty commercial CDs, especially of music by Bach, Byrd, and various members of the Couperin family. Many of these recordings feature historic organs and harpsichords dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His recordings include several devoted to Henry Purcell, including the first recording of the “Purcell Manuscript” (Virgin). He has also recorded Bach’s French Suites (two CDs; Virgin), The Well tempered Clavier (four CDs; Harmonia Mundi), the Musical Offering (with Janet See and John Holloway; Harmonia Mundi), the complete Bach sonatas for flute and harpsichord (with Janet See; Harmonia Mundi) and for violin and harpsichord (with John Holloway; Virgin), as well as The Art of Fugue (a work he has recorded twice). Among his most substantial recordings are William Byrd’s complete keyboard works (127 pieces, on seven CDs, using six instruments; Hyperion), as well as the complete harpsichord and organ music of Louis Couperin (over 200 pieces, on seven CDs, using four historic instruments). His recent recordings include: the complete harpsichord works of Louis Marchand and Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (Plectra, 2007), a CD that includes Nicolas Lebègue’s Les Cloches; a two-CD album of pieces from “The Borel Manuscript” (Plectra, 2008), comprising pieces from a recently discovered manuscript of French harpsichord music acquired in 2004 by UC Berkeley’s Hargrove Music Library; and the first of a 10-CD series devoted to the complete harpsichord works of François Couperin (234 pieces).

His recordings have been awarded the French Grand Prix du Disque (1996), the German Preis der Deutschen Schallplatenkritik (2000), and three British Gramophone Awards (1986, 1991, 2000). In 1987 he was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre du mérite culturel by Prince Rainier of Monaco and, in 2000, Officier des arts et des lettres by the French government.

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