Among the many events delayed by the pandemic is an upcoming concert in memory of Julian Lamb Orgel, who died in 2018 at the age of 26. His parents, pianist Paul Orgel and psychologist and author Sharon Lamb, of Shelburne, took about a year to plan a tribute that reflects their son’s varied musical interests. Then COVID-19 hit.
‘An Evening Remembering Julian’ is now scheduled for Saturday May 21 at the Elley-Long Music Center at Saint Michael’s College, Colchester as a live, in-person event which will also be streamed. (Tickets for either cost the same.) The concert is part of a fundraising effort to endow a $50,000 scholarship for the Vermont Youth Orchestra in Julian’s name.
In Memoriam: Julian Lamb Orgel, 1992-2018
In Memoriam: Julian Lamb Orgel, 1992-2018
Julian started playing the cello at a young age at the suggestion of his parents; the idea was for father and son to play together, which they often did. He studied the Suzuki method with Anne Brown before becoming a pupil of John Dunlop, principal cellist of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Julian played at all levels from VYO through high school.
The youth orchestra “was a constant for him for many years and it was a very healthy and positive part of his life,” Orgel said in a phone call, explaining the scholarship idea. Ticket purchases and donations can be made on the events page of the VYO website and at the door.
In high school, Julian also took up the trumpet, then studied jazz guitar. He performed in the Flynn Jazz Program under the direction of Tom Cleary. And he became a dedicated fan of Phish and the Grateful Dead.
The memorial concert will showcase all of these interests as well as key figures in Julian’s musical life. Dunlop will join Orgel in performing Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Elegy’, Opus 24, from 1880, a piece whose long, gradually descending lines of the main theme express dark pathos.
Cleary, a pianist and keyboardist, and his wife Amber deLaurentis, a jazz singer, will perform jazz standards and tunes, some of which Lamb chose because she used to sing them with her son while driving him to music. music class.
Jazz guitarist Paul Asbell will play blues and songs that Julian “would have loved”, according to the program notes, in memory of the young man’s fearless experimentation with the guitar. Cleary, deLaurentis and Asbell — all of Orgel’s colleagues in the University of Vermont’s music department — will join in paying a tribute to The Grateful Dead.
The heart of the concert will be a work written for and dedicated to Julian by accomplished composer Curt Cacioppo, a friend of the family since the early 1990s when he and Orgel taught at Haverford College. Cacioppo composed a song cycle for soprano and piano entitled “Songs With and Without Words”.
“Our kids grew up together in Pennsylvania,” Orgel said, and the pianist became “a champion of [Cacioppo’s] music.” In fact, Orgel performed Cacioppo’s “Pawnee Preludes” at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in June 2018, with the composer in attendance, less than two weeks before Julian’s unexpected death.
“[Cacioppo’s] The response to finding out Julian was dead was to start writing those songs,” Orgel recalled.
For some songs, the composer set Lamb’s own Facebook posts about the aftermath of her son’s death to music.
” She learnt [Cacioppo’s composition] because he would start sending us those songs. He had a very strong response. He wrote this amazing piece. It’s an uplifting cycle of songs in many styles – from jazz, to blues, to American classical.
The performance of “Songs With and Without Words” will feature soprano Orgel and Marshfield Mary Bonhag, a frequent collaborator of the pianist.
When asked what it was like to play ‘Songs’, Orgel replied, “On some level, it’s a serious musical mission. But on another, I’m going to stop and watch it and it’s very emotional for me. I’ll call Sharon from across the house and say, here’s the part with the water on her headstone.
Heartbreak aside, Orgel emphasized the benevolent intent of the event and stressed the need to support the VYO.
“It’s very positive for us. It’s very affirming. And we’re doing it for the community and the orchestra.