For the Boston Bach Birthday, we have a distinguished guest: organist and professor Arvid Gast, from Lübeck, Germany. He is making his first visit to the USA, and it is fitting that he start in Boston because he is well known to two members of the congregation, Balint Karosi and Cheryl Ryder. In 2008 he was a member of the jury during the three individual elimination events of the Leipzig Bach organ competition, hearing as many as 25 young organists play the same music over the course of each round, and of course preferring Balint Karosi all the way to first place! Some years earlier as a graduate student, he too played in the Bach competition.
Arvid Gast is director of the church music institute and principal teacher of organ at the conservatory in Lübeck up in north central Germany. He also serves as Titular Organist at Lübeck’s St. Jakobi, where he has oversight of four historic organs. These include two instruments dating from the 1600s. During a typical year there are over 100 concerts on these organs, given by visitors from all over the world, students from the conservatory, and church staff. Every three years, Professor Gast convenes the jury for the International Dieterich Buxtehude Organ Competition, which he founded in 2007. He was also Titular Organist at the concert hall “Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen” in Magdeburg from 2008 to 2014.
Arvid Gast concertizes, leads masterclasses, and chairs or serves on the juries for many international organ competitions in Germany and beyond, with notable engagements in Europe, Russia and the Far East. With trumpeter Joachim Pliquett, he performs regularly in concert with the renowned Windsbacher Boys Choir. Music of Bach and of the north German baroque and German Romantic periods are his specialties, as is evident from his numerous CD recordings.
Raised in Bremen, Arvid Gast studied organ performance and church music at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany. From 1990 to 1993 he held the position of organist and choirmaster at St. Nikolai Church in Flensburg. Appointed Professor of Organ Performance at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” and University Organist in Leipzig in 1993, he remained there until 2004 when he moved to Lübeck. His four teenaged children and wife are all musicians, and among his former students at the Leipzig conservatory is Canto Armonico’s frequent director Ulf Wellner, a regular visitor to First Lutheran since 2011.