Organ Music by Joe Utterback

Recorded on the Mander Organ in St. Ignatius Loyola, Park Avenue, New York City. 

This recording is available to stream or download from all major sites such as iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.

Sample audio clip: Utterback – My hope is built

      My Hope Is Built

1. Variations on Amazing Grace* [7’14”]

2. Balm in Gilead [2’50”]

3. Swing Low [2’27”]

4. My Lord! What a Morning* [3’36”]

5. Were you There?* [4’47”]

6. Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door* [3’16”]

7. Flutedance* [1’39”]

8. Cornet Voluntary* [1’39”]

9. Air on the Oboe Stop* [4’20”]

10. Trumpet Tune* [1’45”]

11. Nativity Song on Greensleeves* [3’33”]

12. Just a Closer Walk with Thee* [2’25”]

13. Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart* [2’59”]

14. My Hope is Built* [2’15”]

15. Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us [3’35”]

16. Tango* [7’11”]

17. Steal Away [4’01”]

18. Love Came Down at Christmas* [2’44”]

19. Cornet Voluntary* [5’24”]

20. Deep River* [3’45”]

21. Little David, Play on Your Harp* [2’59”] 

22. The Ewe’s Blues* [2’46”] (Bonus Track, improvised by Dr. Joe at one of the recording sessions)

* World premiere recording

Program notes

© 2002, Andrew Shenton

Dr. Joe’s organ music contains a wide variety of moods and styles and represents an exciting fusion of classical organ and American popular styles. His music contains many improvisatory features; in fact, many of them started as piano improvisations that he later notated. Some, such as “Deep River” and “Cornet Voluntary,” exists in more than one version. To help the performer playing with the appropriate style, performance directions are included in the scores that cover aspects of jazz, blues and gospel technique, such as slides and trills. Dr. Joe always recommends that the performers find the best solutions to tempo and registration depending on the performance venue and instrument, and he encourages spontaneity and flair when performing his music.

Inspiration has come from many sources for this music. The set called “Voluntariness,” for example, is based on the English organ voluntaries of John Stanley and his colleagues, and contains idiomatic versions of such of genres as the Flute Piece and the Trumpet Voluntary. Many of Dr. Joe’s works are based on dance forms such as the concert “Tango” and the brilliant Latin setting off “My Hope is Built.” Many of the selections are modern equivalents of the chorale prelude – short pieces based on a hymn or spiritual. They are published as a single pieces such as the voluptuous setting off “Steal Away,” or in collections such as “Knockin’ at your Door” and “The Jazz Gospel.” Three of his most popular settings are “Nativity Song on Greensleeves,” “Were you There?” and “Balm in Gilead.” All of the spiritual settings demonstrate a sincere and heartfelt response to the melody and the texts.

Dr. Joe’s music covers the major liturgical seasons of the church’s year, and some works are also suitable for concert performance, including the diverse “Variations on Amazing Grace,” and the humorous setting of Baa-baa Black sheep as “The Ewe’s Blues!”

Dr. Joe’s organ music has style and character and has charmed performers and audiences alike. Full program notes, descriptions of the pieces and sample pages from the scores can be found on the Jazzmuze webpages.


Mander Organs London, England (1991)
Suspended mechanical key action
Electrical drawstop action
4 manuals, 68 stops, 91 ranks

Since its installation in 1993, the organ in St. Ignatius Loyola Church has become a landmark liturgical and concert instrument in New York City. Built by Mander Organs of London in 1992, the four-manual organ contains sixty-eight speaking stops, nearly five thousand pipes, and weighs over twenty tons; it is believed to be amongst the largest mechanical action organs ever built in the British Isles. The organ was conceived with strong leanings towards the French symphonic style, and has been acclaimed as one of North America’s most significant pipe organs. The organ case, one of the most spectacular to be built in modern times, rises 44 feet above the gallery floor and is made of solid French oak. A facade of polished tin pipes masks the pipes and mechanical action of the instrument, all made easily accessible by wide walkways and stairs.

The luxurious console is finished with jambs and panels veneered with burr walnut and inlaid with satinwood banding, with blackwood borders. One panel conceals a CCTV monitor. The hand-engraved stop knobs are turned from a sixty-year old stock of rosewood and are carefully graded from top to bottom for color.

Recording Details

The CD was recorded on the Mander organ in St. Ignatius Loyola, New York City, on April 4 and 5, 2002.

Sound engineer / editing: Edward Kelly / Mobile Master

Executive Producer: Andrew Shenton; Producer: William Todd