Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra, featuring the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed concert organist Christopher Houlihan, to be performed at Trinity College Chapel on September 27 & 29

Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra, featuring the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed concert organist Christopher Houlihan, to be performed at Trinity College Chapel on September 27 & 29 

The concerts are presented by the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, one of the most prestigious pipe organ competitions in North America

HARTFORD, CT (August 13, 2019) — On September 27 and 29, 2019, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford presents acclaimed concert organist Christopher Houlihan and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (Carolyn Kuan, Music Director) at Trinity College Chapel, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, CT, in two performances of Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra that feature Joseph Jongen’s thrillingly virtuosic Symphonie Concertante for organ and orchestra.

The two concerts are the opening and closing events of the 2019 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, a highly-regarded organ competition that brings some of the world’s best young organists to Hartford to perform – and compete – on the renowned 4,429-pipe Austin organ at Trinity College Chapel. For tickets to these two concerts, visit hartfordsymphony.org or call 860-987-5900; visit www.asofhartford.org for a complete schedule of events.

“The mission of the Festival is to encourage and inspire excellence in organ performance, not only with the competition, but through concerts and other events that introduce more listeners to the pipe organ,” said Vaughn Mauren, the Festival’s artistic director. “This year, as we seek to build an even larger audience for this exciting Festival that takes place right here in Hartford, we are thrilled to present two concerts at Trinity College Chapel with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Carolyn Kuan, Music Director. We are especially proud to feature Christopher Houlihan, an acclaimed concert organist and member of the faculty at Trinity College in Hartford who is also a member of the Festival’s Board of Directors and a local leader in the arts.”

The Symphonie Concertante by Belgian composer Joseph Jongen is seldom performed, not only due to its difficulty, which requires an organist of the highest caliber, but because it requires an organ of significant size and quality that can match the orchestra in volume and variety. The concerts on September 27 and 29 may be the first Hartford-area performances of this music.

“Many people are familiar with the pipe organ in a liturgical or church setting, but there is also a rich repertoire of concert music for solo organ and for organ with orchestra, and music of both types will be heard in these concerts,” said Mauren. “All the Festival events – the professional competition, choral evensong, and these concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra – feature the magnificent Austin Organ at Trinity College Chapel. This organ, crafted by Hartford’s own Austin Organ Company, is renowned among organists and choral musicians, and we are excited to introduce new listeners to the splendor and vast color palette of this organ as a solo instrument and in partnership with the full orchestra.”

The organ soloist, Christopher Houlihan, is an internationally-acclaimed organist who also holds the John Rose College Organist-and-Directorship Distinguished Chair of Chapel Music at Trinity College in Hartford, his alma mater. Critics have applauded Houlihan for his “world class chops” and “marvelous ear;” The Los Angeles Times proclaimed him “dazzling” and “seductive.” Recent concert highlights include debuts at the Kennedy Center and Kimmel Center. In 2008, Houlihan made his orchestral debut with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (Edward Cumming, conductor) performing Samuel Barber’s Toccata Festiva. The Hartford Courant raved that “Houlihan showed that an organ soloist can have the charisma and energy of a major soloist.”

The program also features music by Charles-Marie Widor, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Felix Mendelssohn, composers who were especially beloved by Albert Schweitzer, the noted doctor, humanitarian, and organist in whose honor the Festival was established. The newest music on the program is Gene Scheer’s Albert Schweitzer Portrait for orchestra and narrator, commissioned by the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, a Boston-based orchestra whose members include healthcare professionals. John Nowacki of New England Public Radio will narrate the Portrait, which illuminates Dr. Schweitzer’s life and work through excerpts of his writings.

These concerts also offer listeners an opportunity to see and hear the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Trinity College Chapel, a Hartford landmark and a building of national significance noted for its pre-eminence among neo-Gothic structures in America. Despite a name that suggests an intimate space, the Chapel, with a length of some 180 feet and a breathtaking reach of 62 feet from floor to ceiling, boasts an extraordinarily resonant acoustic in a soaring, visually stunning space.

Carolyn Kuan and Dr. Lisa Wong, an expert on the life and work of Albert Schweitzer and a member and former president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, will join Mr. Houlihan in presenting a 30-minute talk one hour before the start of each program in the Admissions Building, near the Chapel.

Tickets for the concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Houlihan are on sale now at www.hartfordsymphony.org.

COMPLETE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: The 23rd Annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford

All events take place at Trinity College Chapel, 300 Summit Street, Hartford. Complete Festival details are at www.asofhartford.org.

Friday, September 27, 2019

8:00 p.m. The Opening Concert: Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra – Acclaimed organist Christopher Houlihan joins the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn Kuan conducting, in the Opening Concert of the 2019 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford. A pre-concert talk begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Admissions Building, near the Chapel. Tickets are $35-$55 at www.hartfordsymphony.org.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

All events on Saturday, September 28 are free and open to the public.

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The Young Professional Competition – Each of three finalists performs a solo recital on the 4,429-pipe Austin organ in Trinity College Chapel, competing for $26,000 in prize money.

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Winner’s Recital – The First Prize recipient presents a solo organ recital of selected repertoire.

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Choral Evensong – This ancient service of sung evening prayer is open to all. The Chapel Singers of Trinity College join with the choirs of St. James’s Episcopal Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church (both in West Hartford) under the direction of Vaughn Mauren and Scott Lamlein, choirmasters, to present great choral music from the English cathedral tradition. The service will be accompanied by Benjamin Straley, former Organist of Washington National Cathedral.

6:00 p.m. Hymn Playing Competition – The three finalists compete for the $2,500 David Spicer Hymn Playing Prize, demonstrating their ability to inspire and lead several hundred people in song.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

3:00 p.m. Encore Presentation: Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra – An encore presentation of the Opening Concert. Acclaimed organist Christopher Houlihan joins the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn Kuan conducting. A pre-concert talk begins at 2:00 p.m. in the Admissions Building, near the Chapel. Tickets $35-$55 at www.hartfordsymphony.org.

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