Concert and recording artist Christa Rakich currently directs the music program at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in West Hartford, CT, in addition to her appointment as Artist-in-Residence at First Congregational Church in Somers, CT. Previous Artist-in-Residencies include the University of Pennsylvania and First Lutheran Church in Boston. Teaching posts have included New England Conservatory, Westminster Choir College, Brandeis University, and the University of Connecticut. She has also served as Assistant University Organist at Harvard University.
As a Fulbright Scholar, Christa Rakich studied for two years with Anton Heiller at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Organ and German from Oberlin College (Phi Beta Kappa). After receipt of her Master’s degree with honors from New England Conservatory, she was asked to join the faculty there, where she taught for many years, serving ultimately as Organ Department co-Chair.
Active in the American Guild of Organists, she has served as Dean of the Northeast Connecticut Chapter and as a judge for competitions at both regional and national levels, for both repertory and improvisation. She has been a member of the National Committee for Organ Improvisation, and appears regularly as a performer and presenter at AGO conventions.
A prizewinner at international organ competitions (notably Bruges 1976), Rakich has received particular acclaim for her interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach. With keyboardist Peter Sykes, she performed a complete cycle of Bach’s keyboard works in a series of 34 concerts from 2003 to 2005 aptly named Tuesdays With Sebastian. The concerts raised a total of $20,000 which was distributed to Boston area charities.
Rakich’s performing career has taken her throughout North America and Europe. Of her featured concert at the Year 2000 National AGO Convention in Seattle, critics said, “Rakich’s wonderfully natural ebb and flow went right to the music’s heart. The urbane charm and wit certainly came across, as did just the right bit of wildness…” [The American Organist, October 2000]. “Christa Rakich’s performance and playing ability were exquisitely matched to the justly famous Flentrop organ at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle. She seemed to innately sense the length of phrase for the magnificent acoustic of this formidable box of a room…” [The Diapason, November 2000].
Her celebrated recording of J.S. Bach’s Leipzig Chorales, recorded in Boston and Tacoma, was reviewed: “Rakich’s playing is distinguished by its precision, urbanity, subtle expression, careful articulation, rhythmic energy, and grace… This is a connoisseur’s delight.” [The American Organist, April 2007].
Her most recent release is a 2-CD set of J.S. Bach’s Trio Sonatas. Of this critics said: “Rakich amply displays her versatility in this repertory, playing the large Preludes and Fugues with robust touch and rhythmic drive, and the organ trios with sensitive articulations to bring out the shaping of each melodic line. She excels as a harpsichordist in Sonatas IV and V, playing the bass line in the left hand and adding harmonies to create a basso continuo for the two treble soloists. These arrangements enable us to hear the organ trios as chamber music, setting a high standard for Rakich to maintain in the organ solos, where she is able to maintain the linearity of the three simultaneous melodies.
This recording is a valuable compendium of the finest American organ builders of the last four decades, beginning with the landmark instrument built by Charles Fisk for Old West Church in Boston in 1971. Other pieces in the programme are performed on organs by John Brombaugh, Taylor & Boody, Paul Fritts, Greg Harrold and Richards-Fowkes. The quality of these organs is immediately apparent thanks to Rakich’s superb playing and the expert engineering of Bill Levey and Roger Sherman of Loft Recordings. European listeners may be surprised to hear how well the Klangideal of the Old Masters has been transplanted to the New World; this recording is a must for anyone interested in the development of the historical organ in America.” [Early Music, October 2008]
Other released recordings include Deferred Voices: Organ Music by Women Composers, and Transcriptions from St. Justin’s, both made on the 1932 Kilgen organ at St. Justin’s Church in Hartford, and Christa Rakich in Recital at St. Mark’s Cathedral, a live recording of her performance at the 2000 National AGO Convention in Seattle. Additional information on recordings can be found at www.bachtrios.com and www.bachleipzigchorales.com.