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You are here: Home > Artist Roster > Butler, J. Melvin


J. MELVIN BUTLER is Canon Musician of Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, and has taught organ improvisation and church music at the University of Washington. Also a professional violist, he performs regularly with the Onyx Chamber Players in Seattle. Prior to arriving in Seattle in 1991, he was for many years Organist/Choirmaster of the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY. During that time he was also Associate Professor of Church Music at the Eastman School of Music, a violist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director and Conductor of the Rochester Bach Festival Chorus. During the Viet Nam war, he served his country as violist in the U.S. Navy String Quartet.

Mel Butler has performed in major concert halls, churches, and cathedrals in the U.S., the U.K. and Japan. He often presents master classes and lectures on various aspects of church music, choral conducting, hymn playing, and improvisation, and has appeared as a lecturer and recitalist for conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, and the Association of Anglican Musicians. His organ CD’s, on the Loft and ReZound labels include French on the Flentrop, Out of This World (with the Boston Brass), all recorded on the Saint Mark’s Cathedral Flentrop; The Marion Camp Oliver Organ, recorded on the new Fritts organ at Saint Mark’s; and Tournemire in Oberlin recorded on the C. B. Fisk organ at Oberlin College. His choral recordings with the Saint Mark’s Cathedral Choir appear on the Loft and Gothic labels.

Originally from Burlington, NC, Butler received the Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studying organ with Garth Peacock, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music, studying with David Craighead.
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French on Flentrop - J. Melvin Butler
French on the Flentrop/J. Melvin Butler
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Cathedral organist Mel Butler plays a program of French music, from de Grigny to Tournemire. Although it is a Dutch organ, the 1965 Flentrop is surprisingly well-suited to French repertoire.  With an abundance of reeds, beautiful flutes and six seconds of reverberation, the organ renders French music in an highly effective, if not authentic style. Mel Butler lives a superb performance, which is captured with our proprietary 24-bit recording technology.  Highly recommended!


Out of This World - Boston Brass - J. Melvin Butler
Out of This World/Boston Brass & Mel Butler
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The Boston Brass is paired with Mel Butler on the landmark Flentrop organ of St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle for this sonic spectacular! "Blast Off" with the world premiere recordings of Bruce Edward Miller's Pluto: The Last Planet; land in stormy Seattle with "Here's That Rainy Day" (Jimmy van Heusen). Also included: Solemn Entry by Strauss, Poeme Heroique by Dupre and Grand Choeur Dialogue by Gigout. 24-bit recording.
 
This is a CD of quality that should long be remembered. - The Organ magazine (UK)
Tournemire in Oberlin - J. Melvin Butler
Tournemire in Oberlin/Mel Butler (2CDs!)
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Dr. J. Melvin Butler plays three suites from "L'Orgue Mystique," interspersed between written improvisations by Tournemire. Liner notes are written by noted Tournemire scholar, Ann Labounsky.

But is it Tournemire in Oberlin, or Chartres? This unusual double CD features the new Aristide Cavaillé-Coll-style Fisk organ as it sounds in Finney Chapel at Oberlin College, and also as it might sound if it were in Chartres Cathedral. New recording technology makes it possible to create a mathematical model of a room's acoustics from measurements taken in the room itself. With sufficient computing power, a program can then place any sound (in this case, the sound of the Fisk organ at Oberlin) in the modelled acoustics. Does it work? You be the judge! Both versions (2 CDs) are included in this package--2 CDs for the price of one!
Thomsen Chapel Organ Recitals - J. Melvin Butler - Roger Sherman
The Thomsen Chapel Organ Inaugural Recitals (St Mark's Cathedral, Seattle)/Butler & Sherman
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This recording documents the inaugural recitals given on the new Paul Fritts organ of Thomsen Chapel at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle in 2003. Based on north European practices of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this beautiful organ has singing principals, piquant reeds, and luscious flutes. In addition there are a set of strings which give this organ a wide range of sonic possibilities not usually expected in a small, Baroque-style instrument. The program contains repertoire well-suited to a chapel organ, and includes the first recording of Toon Hagen's partita on 'Vater Unser im Himmelreich.' Features St. Mark's Cathedral organist and choirmaster J. Melvin Butler and associate organist Roger Sherman.
How Bright appears the Morning Star - St. Mark's Cathedral - J. Melvin Butler
How Brightly Shines the Morning Star/St. Mark's Cathedral (Seattle) Choir/Mel Butler
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The chorale “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How brightly shines the Morning Star”) is presented on this CD in a wide variety of musical styles, along with other hymns, anthems and voluntaries for the season of Epiphany. J. Melvin Butler directs the cathedral choir in this program of familiar–and unusual–works.
   
 
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The Gothic Catalog
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