Music as Refuge: Schedule

In turbulent times, music can accompany us into places of refuge, or is itself a means of escape. Music opens up imaginary worlds. This semester’s series, Music as Refuge, reflects on these themes in a series of short recitals performed by Cornell’s pianists and organists.

High points of this series are two programs by pianists Xak Bjerken and Mike Lee. Xak Bjerken will present a premiere of new Cornell Professor of Composition Elizabeth Ogonek’s Orpheus Suite, along with an interview with the composer. Mike Lee will perform a selection of Chopin’s Preludes, Op. 28, on Cornell’s Pleyel pianino, reflecting on Chopin’s isolated and alienated circumstances and their possible musical manifestation in a surviving autograph sketch during his sojourn on the island of Majorca (1838-39).

As part of the Music as Refuge series, the biweekly Midday Music for Organ programs range across a wide terrain, from early 18th-century Northern Germany to 20th-century England, from 19th-century America to the European lowlands of the 17th century, in an exploration of "The Organist's Imaginary Worlds."

David Yearsley will present “Fantastical Refuges” with music by G. F. Handel; Anna Steppler “Remembers Home” with British music of the 20th and 21st centuries; Annette Richards is “Suspended in Time” with music by Alain, Buxtehude, Mozart, and Arvo Pärt; and Michael Plagerman takes us to the “Fortress: Music of Strength and Comfort,” featuring List, Widor, and John Knowles Paine. The organ recitals will be recorded on a variety of instruments at Cornell and in the Ithaca area.


  • September 23: “Fantastical Refuges”: David Yearsley plays organ works by Handel.

  • September 30: Xak Bjerken plays Elizabeth Ogonek‘s Orpheus Suite.

  • October 7: “Remembering Home”: Anna Steppler plays 20th- and 21st-century British organ music.

  • October 21: “Suspended in Time”: Annette Richards plays organ works by Buxtehude, Frescobaldi, W. A. Mozart, Krebs, and J. S. Bach.

  • November 4: “A Mighty Fortress”: Michael Plagerman plays organ works by Reger, Widor, and John Knowles Paine.

  • November 18: “Behind the Scenes”: A tour of the Cornell Baroque Organ with Annette Richards and Matthew Hall.

  • November 20: Xak Bjerken plays piano works by Ulysses Kay.

  • December 2: Annette Richards and David Yearsley play music for Advent and Christmas by J. S. Bach.

  • December 16: Anna Steppler, Annette Richards, and Michael Plagerman play music for Advent and Christmas.


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