Stephen Tharp is a rare organ artist who truly "has it all":
1) complete mastery of the technical aspects of organ playing;
2) a vast repertoire with great integrity in all musical styles; and
3) an exquisite and convincing musicianship that you simply can't teach.
He brings out the best in the music and in the given instrument he is playing. Not only that, but he is one heck of a nice guy who is delightful to be around. Five stars!
-Dr. George Baker, DMA, MD, Organist, Composer
I first came into contact with Stephen Tharp’s playing back in 2003, having bought his spectacular recording from St Sulpice, Paris. I remember being totally won over by the inherit musicality of Stephen’s playing – shapely, poetic and virtuosic, by turns. In 2006 I wrote a commission for Stephen, ‘Toccata Labyrinth’, intended to highlight the seeming inexhaustibility of his technical prowess. He is clearly one of the very top organists in the world today.
-David Briggs, Concert Organist and Organist Emeritus of Gloucester Cathedral, Composer
I have presented Stephen Tharp in concert and worked with him professionally on a number of occasions. He never disappoints: his presentations are polished and immaculately prepared to be sure, but more importantly, emotionally profound and exciting. He plays any style of any repertoire on any organ with a flair seldom experienced in the musical world yet always informed by the best taste. Stephen Tharp is the musician's musician.
-Mark Dwyer, Organist and Choirmaster, Church of the Advent, Boston
“His technical gifts are impressive and serve well the power of his musicality and sense of illusion."
-Jean Guillou, Titular Organist of St. Eustache, Paris
Stephen Tharp's playing is brilliant, rhythmic and absolutely full of life. He embodies an excellent feeling for rhetoric, agogic flexibility and a sense for an orchestral palette at the organ. I first met Stephen in 1999, and he remains to this day one of the best performers of my music.
-Naji Hakim, Organist, Composer and Teacher, Paris
There is no question that his fame is well deserved. Stephen Tharp is a brilliant musician and gifted artist - technically and musically. He performed a powerful concert on the Blackinton organ that resulted in a spontaneous and well deserved standing ovation. He left the audience in awe. We would be proud to present Stephen many more times in the future. Bravo!
Director, Auxiliary Services
Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota
Great technique, great musicality.
"...played like an angel."
-Marie-Louise Langlais, widow of Jean Langlais, Organist
Stephen Tharp is a very fine organist. Excellent technique, superb musicality, good taste... What more should we ask?
I am totally convinced that we play as we are: as Stephen is also a very nice person, we can hear this in his performances. This is what that makes his concerts and recordings so attractive.
-Olivier Latry, Titular Organist of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris
He is the finest young organist I have ever heard. Stephen is a thorough, thoughtful and brilliant performer who has commissioned a record number of organ works from me, music he performs regularly.
-Anthony Newman, renowned Organist, Harpsichordist and Composer
Stephen Tharp is not your ordinary concert organist. He has the ability to keep an audience spellbound from beginning to end. I hosted an organ competition during Stephen's student years, and he won that particular competition hands down, with a sensitivity then that many young organists “grow into." He recently opened our concert series (2007-2008) season with a brilliant recital, holding the audience in the palm of his hand, with style and virtuosity that was a joy to witness as the music unfolded before our eyes and ears. This was a rare experience.
Retired Director of Music and Organist
First Presbyterian Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois
North Park University, Chicago
Stephen is very much a musician of “today," which I appreciate. His musicianship is versatile, as much as is his immense repertoire and his playing.
I heard him in 2005 in Haarlem’s grand old St. Bavo – world stage for organ culture. To mention just two aspects of this recital: George Böhm’s Vater Unser im Himmelreich sounded beautifully expressive, while French virtuosity was presented in Guillou, Dupré and Escaich with extraordinary brillance. And he knows very well how to bridge the enormous distance – this ‘rainbow’ - between these extremes of music, artistic projection and communication to everyone….I like that!
-Piet Kee, retired City Organist at St. Bavo, Haarlem
Stephen Tharp is one of the most creative and exciting organists I have ever heard. His technique is brilliant and flawless. His performances always connect with and thrill the listeners. His repertoire is vast, including well-known organ works, many of his original orchestral transcriptions, and strong and exciting contemporary works, many of which he has commisioned or composed. But beyond all the brilliance, it is in his interpretation of quieter, lyrical pieces where the soul of the organ, the soul of the artist, and the souls of the listeners meet. He is a true poet of the organ.
-Robert Plimpton, former San Diego Civic Organist
The 13th annual Friends of Cathedral Music series hosted Stephen Tharp during the 2006-2007 season and his recital was one of the true highlights in the series. His use of the organ was exceptional coupled with exemplary programming which was warmly appreciated by the audience. The playing was of the highest order and he also related very well towards the audience both in his spoken words in the concert and also afterwards with patrons.
-Iain Quinn, Director of Cathedral Music and Organist
-Maxine Thevenot, Associate Organist-Choir Director
Cathedral of St. John, Albuquerque, New Mexico
I highly regard Stephen Tharp as one of the beacons of our time.
He is an organist who is equally convincing in his interpretations of all styles of music. Although it is obvious that he is a very thoughtful musician, his interpretations always sound passionate and spontaneous. He is a fiery, poetic, colorful and creative artist who breathes life into the organ.
-Cherry Rhodes, Concert Organist and Adjunct Professor of Organ Studies at University of Southern California in L.A.
Stephen Tharp: so many great musical gifts! Amazing virtuosity but also
such a beautiful "cantabile" playing, an excellent use of so different types
of organs... and such a nice person!
-Daniel Roth, Titular Organist of St. Sulpice, Paris
What a delight it has been to observe the unfolding of Stephen Tharps's artistry -- from a prodigious twelve-year-old to a world-class organist whose creative musicianship pervades each performance, whether a dazzling transcription or a masterwork of Bach, Messiaen, or Liszt. The wedding of God-given talent and informed scholarship is evident in each musical encounter, which results in a soul-satisfying experience for the fortunate listener.
-Morgan Simmons, retired Director of Music, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago
Stephen Tharp is one of the most exciting players on the scene today. He is continuously innovative in his programming, and consistently plays to an exceptional level of performance. It has been our great pleasure to present him as an artist here at St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City, and we look forward to future collaborations with this exceptional artist.
-Kent Tritle, Director of Music, Organist and Conductor at St. Ignatius Loyola, New York
I would like to thank you for a marvellous recital in Lincoln Cathedral the other day, for your use of the organ, your insight into the music and, in particular, a very classy performance of the Messiaen Messe de la Pentecôte.
-Colin Walsh, Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral