A Brief Look Into the Life of Paul Fejko
Provocative, Challenging and Iconoclastic, Paul Fejko has always been quite fond of extremes. He can often be found treading on the boundaries of accepted limits and traditions. Art is exploration and provocation; improvisation is a wonderful vehicle for both. He is often chastised for mixing improvisation into repertoire ('taking too many liberties'), but it seems a one way comment; never has there been a charge leveled against the reverse - adding repertoire to improvisation
Fej finds the pipe organ to be his favorite solo instrument. It can muster more power and subtlety than an entire orchestra while having a responsiveness impossible from a large group of people. He is constantly challenging (often to the point of annoyance!) people to shed their preconceived notions of the organ as merely an instrument of religion, and to realize that in the first half of this century almost every movie house and many concert halls had organs. A good pipe organ is a virtuoso instrument of vast capabilities!
Fej divides his time among many endeavors, most notably with theater and dance as a composer and conductor, but also as a concert organist and pianist. To this one must add his work as a sound and lighting designer, photographer (the covers of three of his ARKAY releases - Incantation, Tyme's Escape and OUTBURST!), audio systems designer, auto mechanic and sometime sculptor (witness the cover of ‘On Making the Flowers Dance’ - designed by Fejko with flowers by Gretchen Ernest.
As of this time, he has recorded 13 CDs of large
European and American organs, covering a wide range of existing
repertoire and his own improvisations.
In 2003 he founded and is now the Artistic Director of 'The Chester Performing Arts Project', a foundation dedicated to bringing world class performing arts to the formerly depressed industrial city of Chester, PA. His André Café Acoustique in Chester is becoming well known in the region.
Fej is a product of The Curtis Institute of Music (class of '75) where he studied with Alexander McCurdy, Rudolf Serkin and Max Rudolf. His first taste of opera came at Curtis from Dino Yannapoulos - a long-time stage director at the Met in NY.
in 1987, Dino commissioned an opera from Fejko - Matteo Falcone - for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia where Dino was Artistic Director at the time. A review of Matteo can be found on the Press/Reviews page at this site.After Curtis, he connected with renowned dance scholar and pedegogist Nadia Chilkovsky and became music director at her Philadelphia Dance Academy - a source of many well-known dancers from the 50's through the mid 70's. During this time, he spent summers at the famed Marlboro Music Festival. In 1980 he headed east to become a musician with Maurice Béjart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century in Brussels, Belgium. From there he headed south to become Music Director of The Ballet of Lyon in France. During much of the 80's his time was passed between these two positions, but not without many forays into Italy and Germany for work with other smaller theater and dance groups. There were also many various and sundry organ and piano concerts! Because of this he is now able to converse in five languages.
Fej has won first prizes for improvisation in Lyon (1981) and San Anselmo, CA (1990). At their Atlanta convention in 1992, the American Guild of Organists awarded him a second prize.