Media Contact:
Sarah Hager Johnston
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Media Phone: 860-676-2228
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The 2019 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford announces finalists for national competition September 28 at Trinity College Chapel

On September 27-29, Trinity College Chapel will host “three days of sonic splendor” as competitors vie for top honors — and $28,500 in prize money.

HARTFORD, CONN. (August 27, 2019) — The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford has announced the three finalists who will compete for top honors in one of the nation’s most prestigious pipe organ competitions.

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

Ms. Baquerizo and Mr. Pattavina study organ at The Juilliard School with renowned organist Paul Jacobs, who was winner of the Festival’s first Young Professional competition in 1998. Mr. Russell recently completed a degree in organ performance at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, having studied with acclaimed organist Ken Cowan, and previously at the Curtis Institute of Music with Alan Morrison. All three of the finalists have garnered awards in prestigious organ-playing competitions, including the Schweitzer Festival, where Joe Russell won the High School division in 2012.

The competition on Saturday, September 28, begins at 10:00 a.m. Each of the three finalists will perform a 45-minute solo recital on the 4,429-pipe Austin organ in Trinity College Chapel, presenting repertoire of their choosing that meets the requirements of the competition. The competition will be judged by renowned organists Diane Meredith Belcher, Thomas Murray, and John Rose.

Elena Baquerizo opens the competition at 10:00 a.m., playing music by Mendelssohn, Bach, Franck, and Weaver. Alexander Pattavina performs at 11:00 a.m., playing music by Reger, Bach, Franck, and Ireland. Joseph Russell performs at 12:45 p.m., playing music by Franck, Bach, Still, and Duruflé.

At 4:30 p.m., the First Prize recipient presents a solo organ recital of selected repertoire.

At 5:00 p.m., all are invited to choral evensong, an ancient service of sung evening prayer. Listeners will hear the organ in its traditional liturgical art form, blending with the Festival Choir to present great choral music from the English cathedral tradition. The Chapel Singers of Trinity College join 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. The service will be accompanied by the Rev. Benjamin Straley, former Organist of Washington National Cathedral.  

At 6:00 p.m., the three finalists compete once more, this time for the David Spicer Hymn Playing Award, demonstrating the ability to inspire and lead several hundred people in song. This is an especially fun event, with audience participation and opportunities for robust singing.

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

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 award of $2,500, given in memory of Festival co-founder David Spicer, is awarded to the winner of the hymn playing competition.

“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 competition 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. 

“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.”

Tickets for the concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Houlihan on September 27 and 29 are on sale now at All other Festival events, including the competitions on September, are free and open to the public. Full details are at

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

Friday, September 27, 2019 - CONCERT
8:00 p.m. – 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

Saturday, September 28, 2019 - COMPETITION 
All events on Saturday, September 28 are free and open to the public
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Young Professionals Competition 
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Winner's Recital 
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Choral Evensong   
6:00 p.m. Hymn Playing Competition 

Sunday, September 29, 2019 - CONCERT 
3:00 p.m. –  Encore Presentation: 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 2:00 p.m. in the Admissions Building, near the Chapel. Tickets are $35-$55 at

Parking and accessibility – Parking for ASOFH events at the Trinity College Chapel is allowed in any campus parking spot, including those marked for college registered vehicles. The closest parking spaces are on Summit Street and in the lots adjacent to Jarvis and Seabury Halls. For those with mobility concerns, at the concerts on Friday, September 27 and Sunday, September 29, a complimentary golf-cart shuttle will be available from the Hansen Hall parking lot, located off Vernon Street. The shuttle will begin service 30 minutes prior to the pre-concert talks and will be available before and following the concerts. Please allow ample time to use this service. The Chapel’s accessible ramp entrance is located through the north cloister, near Downes Memorial. Accessible restrooms are located at the Admissions and Career Development Center and are not available in the Chapel. Additional parking may be found by Ferris Athletic Center, accessed through the campus entrance near 1705 Broad Street. A campus map is available at

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Interviews – For more information, or to schedule an interview with Vaughn Mauren, Artistic Director of the Festival, or with any of the finalists, please contact Sarah Hager Johnston at or 860-676-2228.

Photos of the three finalists and the Austin Organ at Trinity College Chapel are attached.

About the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival

Named for humanitarian and organist Albert Schweitzer, and now in its twenty-third year, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford features an annual international competition for young organists, with the winners receiving significant monetary awards to further their music education. The dual purpose of the Festival is to encourage young organists and to enhance the area of organ education, both to support young people studying the organ and to increase general appreciation of the pipe organ and of organ music of the past and present. Competitors benefit from expert evaluations by recognized judges; compete for monetary awards for their work; advance their resumes; and develop close and lasting bonds with their peers. The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival in the Netherlands, founded in 1979 by the Albert Schweitzer Institute, enabled many young European organists to become leaders in their field. This American version of the Festival energizes organ musicianship in North America and offers a unique opportunity to music lovers in the region and beyond to enjoy an annual opportunity to hear emerging artists perform outstanding organ music on the highly-regarded Austin organ in Trinity College Chapel. The 2019 Festival features the Young Professional Division, which is one of the top three organ competitions in North America. The public competition, in which $28,500 in prize money will be awarded, is at the heart of a weekend of events, offering a sonic feast of concerts, recitals, and choral music, including a hymn-playing competition where every listener is also a participant. More information is at

About the Three Finalists

A recent prizewinner in the AGO/Quimby RCYO, Elena Baquerizo currently studies organ with Dr. Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School, where she is pursuing a BM degree. Originally from South Florida, she has given organ performances and played for services in both Americas. Concert appearances have included Church of the Epiphany (Miami, FL), Marble Collegiate Church (New York, NY), and the Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene, OR); service playing venues have included Seminario Nuestra Señora Corredentora (La Reja, Argentina), Iglesia del Corazón Inmaculado y Doloroso de María (Santiago, Chile), and Assumption Chapel in St. Marys, Kansas. She has been the recipient of several organ performance awards, such as the M. Louise Miller-Paul E Knox Scholarship, second prize in the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, and first prize in the ECU Young Artists Competition. Currently, she is organist at Our Lady of Peace Church in Brooklyn, NY. Miss Baquerizo is also passionate about the piano in its solo and collaborative roles. She has won third place in the Ray Millette Young Artist Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Alhambra Orchestra in Ransom-Everglades School (Coconut Grove, Florida); she has also given solo piano recitals in Reilly Arts Center (Ocala, FL) and Miami-Dade College’s McCarthy Hall. She has collaborated with choirs, singers, and instrumentalists of varying levels, including Dr. Andrew Childs in a performance of Schubert’s Winterreise at St. Mary’s McCabe Theater (St. Marys, KS). Miss Baquerizo received her AA in Liberal Arts from St. Mary’s College (Saint Marys, KS), where she graduated as valedictorian. A chant aficionado, she sang in an adaptation of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum in April 2018 and has performed many of the Propers of the Mass with her sisters. She studied voice with Dr. Andrew Childs, Associate Dean of St. Mary’s College and former Managing Coordinator of Voice and Opera at the Yale School of Music. 

Alexander Pattavina is a second–year graduate student in the organ studio of Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School, where he also earned his Bachelor’s degree. He is the Director of Music at the Church of Saint Agnes in New York City. A native of Stoughton, Massachusetts, Alex received First Prize in the 2014 L. Cameron Johnson Competition sponsored by the Northeastern Connecticut Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and was also awarded the 2014 Ruth and Paul Manz Scholarship from the Lutheran Seminary in Chicago. Formerly, he worked as Organ Scholar of Christ Church in Bronxville, NY under composer and conductor Philip Stopford.  Alex was an editor and proofer for The St. Paul’s Hymnal (2015), and his composition for choir and organ, All in a Stable Cold and Bare, was recently published by Hal Leonard. Alex has performed with the Juilliard Orchestra and performs frequently on the East and West coasts. 

Joe Russell recently received his Master’s Degree in Organ Performance from the Shepherd School of Music, at Rice University, with renowned professor Ken Cowan. Prior to his studies at Rice, Mr. Russell received his bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, studying organ with Alan Morrison. Mr. Russell was a recipient of the Stephanie Yen-Mun Liem Azar Fellow. He also studied Harpsichord and Continuo playing at Curtis with Leon Schelhase. In addition, Joe graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied organ with Thomas Bara and was a recipient of the Fine Arts award. A native of Grayslake, Illinois, he previously studied organ with Dr. Elizabeth Naegele and piano with Donna Fortney and Ruth Peck. Mr. Russell has performed at many notable venues across the United States and Europe, including the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles (CA), The Kimmel Center of Philadelphia (PA), St. Patrick’s Cathedral (NYC), Longwood Gardens (PA), Hill Auditorium (MI), St. Mary, the Virgin (NYC), the Musée des Augustins (Toulouse, France), and the Felix Mendelssohn Conservatory (Leipzig, Germany). Joe has participated in numerous competitions, including the 2019 Miami International Organ Competition, where he was awarded 2nd place and the Audience Prize, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival, where he won both first prize and the hymn playing award in September 2012. He also won the Chicago Regional AGO competition in April 2013. Currently, Mr. Russell is Organist at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston, Interim Organist at St. Philip’s Presbyterian Church, and Artistic Assistant for Ars Lyrica. During his studies at Curtis, Joe was the Organ Scholar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, under the direction of Zach Hemenway. In the summer of 2017, the choir was in residence at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, where Joe was the organist in residence.

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Elena Baquerizo
Alexander Pattavina
Joe Russell
Our mission is to encourage and inspire excellence in organ performance by emerging artists at both the high-school and young professional levels.

Media Contact: Sarah Hager Johnston
Media Inquiries: 
Media Phone: 860-676-2228

General inquiries: 
Administrative Phone: 860-578-8730

Twitter:  @ASOFHartford

Competition Address: Trinity College Chapel, 300 Summit Street Hartford CT
Administrative Address: 19 Walden Street, West Hartford CT, 06107
The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival is pleased to collaborate with these distinguished partners to present the 2019 Festival: Trinity College, the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University, the Greater Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Austin Organs, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Philip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, St. John's Episcopal Church, and St James’s Episcopal Church.
The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival is made possible by the generosity of many individual donors, and by the generous support of our funders, including
The Marjorie Jolidon Fund at the Greater Hartford Chapter AGO; Hartford HealthCare; the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; the Greater Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists; the Maximillian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation; Trinity College; Austin Organs; the State of Connecticut Office of the Arts, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; a federal agency; the Greater Hartford Arts Council; the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation; the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Centennial Millennium Fund; the Edward C. & Alice T. Roberts Foundation; the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University; and Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.
Copyright © 2019 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, All rights reserved.

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