Former Somerville organ scholar releases debut album
Last week saw the release of Robert Smith’s first commercial solo CD, a portrait of the newly built Franz Liszt Memorial Organ in Weimar, Germany. The CD was co-produced by Somerville’s former choir manager Stefan Schwarz and released by the prestigious classical music label Jubal.
Based on the programme of Robert’s 2014 summer tour to Germany, the album features works music by Bach, Liszt, Reger, Howells and Elgar as well as the premier recording of a piece by young composer Bertie Baigent, who is also a former member of the Somerville Choir. Baigent wrote the piece specifically for the tour and dedicated it to Robert and Stefan. The work attracted the attention of the BBC and will be published in print later this year.
Robert is one of the first Oxbridge organ scholars to have released a professional solo CD immediately upon completing his undergraduate degree. Having achieved the joint top First and the highest dissertation mark in the Final Honours School of History last year, he is currently completing a masters in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto while also serving as the Assistant Organist at the city’s largest Anglican church.
“In many ways, this recital tour of Germany was a fitting conclusion to three musically exciting years at Somerville, where I had the great pleasure of working with one of the best Oxford college choirs around,” Robert said.
“As well as a fruitful musical experience, it was of course where many of my strongest friendships were formed, including one with an older alumnus of the college, Stefan Schwarz, whose idea it first was to go on this tour. I was consistently bowled over by the enthusiasm of audiences, to whom I was bringing a tradition of English organ music quite unknown. And the opportunity to record this on a CD was a great privilege.”
Robert is already looking forward to his next tour this summer, with more plans for professional recordings already in the pipeline.
Advance copies of the album are currently available for purchase through Robert’s website at www.robert-smith.org.uk. The CD will shortly be listed on Amazon and will also be available from many other online music stores and specialist classical music shops.