review of Nordic Journey VII in the American
Record Guide, March/April 2018
Hicks continues his fascinating exploration of Scandinavian
organ music with this latest volume. As in the previous
volumes (M/A 2015; M/J 2015; M/J 2017) the music, playing,
and organs are all exemplary. These are some of the
most enjoyable CDs I have reviewed and this one is no
The program presents Norwegian composers from the 18th,
19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Outstanding are the
sonatas by Arild Sandvold (1895–1984) and Juhani
Pohjanmies (1893–1959). These are large-scale,
beautifully crafted, technically demanding, dramatic
pieces in a post-romantic style and deserve to be better
known amongst American organists. I also liked the inclusion
of the pieces with instruments by Kjell Karlson; Hymn
for organ, violin and oboe, and the Partita
for recorder and organ. The longest and most substantial
work is the programmatic symphony Aurore Borelis
(Northern Lights) by Fredrik Sixten, commissioned by
the performer and premiered by him in July of 2017.
The overall theme "is about the unexpected light
we see in the sky or in our hearts, promising hope where
there is darkness." In the course of the six movements,
Dark, Dawn, Day, Dusk, Dark II, and Divinity
(which adds a wordless soprano part), "we encounter
the concept of pilgrimage, either a physical journey
or of the spirit." This is a substantial piece,
complex, dramatic, virtuosic, exciting, colorful and
wholly original in conception.
Hicks plays on three wonderful organs located in Niardos
Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway: a 2 manual, 30 stop
1741 Joachim Wagner; a 2 manual, 27 stop 2015 Torkildsen
choir organ, and a stunning 4 manual, 125 stop 1930
Steinmeyer. Extensive notes on the music, performers,
and the organs. If you are not familiar with the organ
music of Scandinavia, I urge you to be brave and give
one of the volumes from this series a try. You will
be pleasantly surprised.
—written by Robert Delcamp
In this 25-minute feature video, American organist James
D. Hicks takes us along on his journey to Nidaros Cathedral
in Trondheim, Norway. There, he introduces us to the
three pipe organs of varied vintage and style in the
Cathedral, along with some excerpts of selections he
recorded for his seventh volume of the Nordic Journey
Compact Disc seres. James Hicks plays each of the three
pipe organs, offers informative commentary, and conducts
an interview with composer Fredrik Sixten about certain
aspects of his new 6-movement, 45-minutes work, entitled
Symphonia Aurora Borealis. Joining James Hicks in performance
excepts - with footage acquired during actual recording
sessions for Nordic Journey VII - feature first-rate
instrumentalists and soprano Helena Ek.
Making of Nordic Journey VII
from Zarex Corporation
RELEASED: Nordic Journey, Volume VII
(available from Pro
Nordic Journey, Volume VII is available
for purchase from Pro
Organo either as a physical product (two discs)
or in downloads. Clocking in at 156 minutes, Volume
VII features the three organs of Nidaros
Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway in Nordic music from
the time of Bach to works from 2017. Of particular
note are five commissioned works by Mårten
Jansson, Kjell Mørk Karlsen, Sven-Ingvart
Mikkelsen, and Fredrik Sixten. In addition, four
guest artists, Caroline Eidsten Dahl, Helena Ek,
Arnulf Johansen, and Ola Lindseth graced this
endeavor with their fantastic gifts. Frederick
Hohman was the producer, capturing the unique
ambience of this sacred space in his characteristically
Mission of Nordic Journey Continues—September
the whole article here.
Concert to be live broadcast on Swedish National Radio
D. Hicks will perform a special concert November 1,
7:00 p.m. at the Östersunds Church, in Östersund,
Sweden. This concert will be live-broadcast for Swedish
National Radio and will be devoted entirely to music
that Jim has commissioned from Swedish composers.
review of Nordic Journey VI in the American
Record Guide, March/April 2017
Previously I have reviewed two volumes from this series
(M/A 2015; M/J 2015) and found them quite enjoyable,
but this latest volume knocked my socks off. Not only
because the playing and recorded sound maintain the
same high standard of previous volumes, but because
of the stunning organs and marvelous music. Volumes
1-5 focused on Sweden; this program moves to Finland,
presenting standard, newly commissioned, and unpublished
pieces. I like every piece on the program from the large-scale
and powerful works by Maasalo, Isacsson, Sundberg, and
Siimes, to the delightful "Ice Cream Truck Fugue
a la Bach" and the toe-tapping-Sousa-like-march
Through The Alps.
Hicks plays on two organs located in Turku, Finland-the
82 stop Veikko Virtanen in the cathedral, and the 52
stop Grönlunds in St. Michael's Church. Both are
powerful, rich, colorful instruments of a distinct French
personality. Notes on the music (including publishers),
the organs, and the specifications are included. I love
this recording, and want to learn some of this music.
—written by Robert Delcamp
review of Nordic Journey III in the American
Record Guide, March/April 2015
This is Volume
III in a four-volume survey of the highways and byways
of organ music from Nordic countries, which have a rich
heritage of organ building, music, and playing. I was
initially unsure of my response to an entire disc of
music by unknown composers; but the excellent organ,
clear recorded sound, assured playing, and interesting
music soon had me hooked. A delightful surprise.
The music is generally conservative and neo-classical
in style, with a strong Hindemith influence in several
of the pieces. High points include the Nyvall, Forsberg,
Kullnes, and Jansson pieces. Hicks plays on the 1964
Poul-Gerhard Andersen organ in the cathedral of Skara,
Sweden. His performances are clean, accurate, and engaging.
His musical commitment to this repertoire is obvious
in all of the pieces.
The booklet contains informative notes on the music
and the organ specifications. Listening to this program
has made me want to explore the other volumes of the
written by Robert Delcamp
was recently featured in Hifimaailma Magazine.
the whole article here.
RELEASED: Nordic Journey, Volume VI
(available from Pro
James D. Hicks continues his quest to discover
hidden organ music treasures from Nordic composers,
and to inspire new organ music from leading Nordic
composers of the current age, in his sixth volume
– a double CD – in his NORDIC JOURNEY
series. There are TWO venues represented in Volume
6: Turku Cathedral with its 1980 Virtanen Organ,
and St. Michael’s Church in Turku, with
its 2002 Grönlunds Organ. Pro Organo CD 7279
24, 2016: Jim launches an important new mission to help
fight cystic fibrosis
Jim Hicks begins a new quest to raise money and awareness
for cystic fibrosis research. This quest is inspired
by and celebrates the memory of a dear friend who battled
CF. By combining Jim's musical passions and affinity
for Nordic culture, this campaign will culminate with
a pilgrimage of St. Olavsleden (St. Olav Ways pilgrim
path from Sweden to Norway), on what would have been
his friend’s 60th birthday.
Please visit the Nordic
Hike website and sign up to learn about fundraisers,
including concerts and other exciting experiences he
is planning over the course of the next two years.
2016: Jim is reviewed in The American Organist
2015: Jim is a featured artist on The
RELEASED: Nordic Journey, Volume V-Many
Landscapes (available from Pro
From the Faroe Islands to Iceland, Norway, Sweden,
and Denmark, Nordic Journey, Volume V explores
the Many Landscapes of the northern world. For
more about Nordic Journey, Volume V, watch here.
Pro Organo CD 7271
D. Hicks finishes recording a double-CD album, Nordic
May 7, 2015
For the fifth release in his Nordic
Journey series, American organist James D. Hicks has
uncovered another 150 minutes of additional Nordic organ
literature spanning the 19th through 21st centuries.
For Nordic Journey V, Dr. Hicks has also discovered
one of the finest of recently restored symphonic organs
in Sweden, in Kalmar, a small city located in an out-of-the-beaten-path
location in southeast Sweden. Nordic Journey V will
be the premiere audio recording of the newly-restored
organ of Kalmar Cathedral. The Cathedral offers sumptuous
acoustics for the 4-manual symphonic organ located in
its rear Gallery.
In attendance at the recording sessions,
held in last few days of April, 2015, was the Norwegian
composer Kjell Mork Karlsen. Mr. Karlsen has enjoyed
a multi-faceted career in classical music spanning many
decades. While composing for the pipe organ is but one
of many musical interest, he has composed five organ
symphonies. James Hicks’ recording of Karlsen’s
Fourth Organ Symphony is making a considerable impact
upon listeners who are now hearing it for the first
time on Nordic Journey, Volume IV (Pro Organo CD 7264).
In Nordic Journey – Volume 5, Mr. Karlsen’s
Fifth Organ Symphony is to be featured. The final movement
of the 4-movement Symphony V is a highly virtuosic movement,
and is dedicated to James Hicks. The release of Nordic
Journey, Volume V is expected in mid-summer 2015.
"These recordings simply must be heard"
from Choir And Organ (January/February 2015)
Nordic Journey II Review
from Turun Sanomat (a newspaper in Turku, Finland)
July 12, 2014
Honored guest of Turku’s organ festival, James D. Hicks (b. 1958) performed the pieces, which were created by versatile group of Nordic composers, during his concert that was held in July of 2013. Exclusive oeuvres of Mikkola and Fredrik Isaacsson from Turku such as Sonata for organs and Melody as well as piece of work named as Introduktion Og Passacaglia from the Icelandic composer Páll Ísólfsson were being performed alongside with Hicks’ records, which are closely tangent with the pieces, which are usually performed at Cathedral.
The music recorded in Malmö during last August keeps music experience fresh in your mind. Hicks draws your attention to the Northern draught of material similar to the dark abysses. The young organist Hicks’ interest in progressive rock is also very well reflected in his play thus outlining emotional content of the music without following its genre.
This is why, for instance, Isaacson was performing in a hypnotically peaceful way like an acoustic ambient, which Hicks sets against of the Ísólfsson’s pretentious rumble and unrestrained energy. Hicks prefers to respect the rather high lines of the Mikkola’s piece, therefore sonata, which consists of three parts, is filled with a light and joy.
September 2014--Jim Broadcast on Pipedreams
Pipedreams, the nationally-syndicated American Public Media program devoted to the music of the pipe organ, devoted an entire program to Jim's Nordic Journey series on September 22, 2014. Tracks from all four volumes are a part of the broadcast (Pipedreams #1438), and the show includes a conversation with Jim conducted by long-time host Michael Barone, one of the world's recognized authorities on organ literature. The interview was held in the studio of Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul this past summer. Click here to listen in.
Jim was interviewed on Midday with Norman Gilliland, presented by Wisconsin Public Radio, June 26, 2014. Listen in here.
Jim was interviewed by Bill Motlong on WDRT in Viroqua, WI, June 29, 2014. Listen in here.
Nordic Journey, Volume 4--Modern Masters
Exciting contemporary and twentieth century works for organ by composers from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, recorded at Västerås Cathedral, Västerås, Sweden in August 2013.
Projected Release Date: February 10, 2015, Pro Organo #7264
Nordic Journey, Volume 3--Swedish Folkways and Classic Traditions
Organ music from Sweden that is rooted in folk music and neo-classicism,
recorded at Skara Cathedral, Skara, Sweden in August 2013.
Pro Organo #7263
JUST RELEASED: Nordic Journey, Volume 2--The Nordic Symphonic Tradition
A program of late-romantic works for organ from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland,
recorded at St. Johannes' Church, Malmö, Sweden in August 2013.
Pro Organo #7262
July 23, 2013
An article from Turun Sanomat (Turku, Finland) about Jim's participation as the main guest of Turku’s organ festival.
THE ORGAN PLAYS IN NORTHERN TONES
By Matti Komulainen
Read it here.
May 15, 2013
A review of Nordic Journey from Organum, a Finnish periodical.
Read it here.