The 2019 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival brings top talent to Hartford and showcases the Hartford-built “grand organ” at Trinity College Chapel

On September 27-29, Trinity College Chapel will host “three days of sonic splendor” as competitors vie for the top honors — and $28,500 in prize money — at one of the nation’s most prestigious organ competitions.

HARTFORD, CONN. (August 22, 2019) — Now in its 23rd season, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford brings some of the nation’s best young organists to Hartford to perform – and compete – on the renowned Austin organ at Trinity College Chapel in Hartford.

The 2019 Festival, scheduled for September 27-29, offers a sonic feast of concerts, recitals, and choral music. The competition, which takes place on Saturday, September 28, is book-ended on September 27 and September 29 by concerts featuring internationally-acclaimed organist Christopher Houlihan and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn Kuan, music director. All events take place at Trinity College Chapel, 300 Summit Street, Hartford.

“The 2019 Festival features our Young Professional Division competition, one of the top three organ competitions in North America, which we offer biennially in odd years,” said Vaughn Mauren, the Festival’s artistic director. “This year we will award $28,500 in prize money, the largest single-year sum in Festival history.”

The award for the first place winner of the Young Professional Division is $15,000; the second place winner receives $7,500; and the third place winner receives $3,500. An additional prize of $2,500 is awarded to the winner of the David Spicer Hymn Playing Prize.

“These prizes are truly artistic grants,” said Mauren, “meant to ease the burdens of student loans and living expenses, while providing our laureates the means to pursue additional musical opportunities.”

The 2019 finalists, selected by a panel of judges from an international pool of applicants, are Elena Baquerizo of New York, NY; Alexander Pattavina, also of New York, NY; and Joseph Russell of Houston.

The competition on Saturday, September 28, begins at 10:00 a.m. Each of the three finalists will perform a 45-minute solo recital before three expert adjudicators: the renowned organists Diane Meredith Belcher, Thomas Murray, and John Rose. At 4:30 p.m., the winning organist presents a 30-minute solo recital. All listeners are invited to attend choral evensong at 5:00 p.m., and to participate in the final element of the competition, a rousing hymn-playing contest, where the three finalists compete vie for the $2,500 David Spicer Hymn Playing Prize. All the events on September 28 are free and open to the public.

“Outreach is also an important component of the Festival,” Mauren added. “This year, as we seek to build an even larger audience for this exciting Festival right here in Hartford, we are thrilled to present the two concerts on September 27 and 29 with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Carolyn Kuan, Music Director. We are especially proud to feature concert organist Christopher Houlihan, John Rose College Organist-Directorship Distinguished Chair of Chapel Music at Trinity College in Hartford, who is also a member of the Festival's Board of Directors and a local leader in the arts.”

“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 during the Festival,” added Mauren. “All the Festival events – the professional competition, choral evensong, and the two 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 splendour and vast color palette of this organ as a solo instrument and in partnership with the full orchestra.”

The Festival events also offer music-lovers an opportunity to visit 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, and is particularly suited for performance of organ and choral music.


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