“Music for Grand Organ and Orchestra” presents the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed concert organist Christopher Houlihan at Trinity College Chapel, Hartford, 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, CONN. (August 15, 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 in a pair of concerts 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 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 noted that “Houlihan showed that an organ soloist can have the charisma and energy of a major soloist.”
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. Unlike a typical concerto, in which a soloist is accompanied by the orchestra, in this music the organ and orchestra are equal partners, each serving as soloist and accompanist throughout the work’s four movements.
“Jongen provides the organ soloist with many opportunities for virtuosity, but also provides occasion to fade into the orchestral texture,” said Houlihan. “Because a great organ (especially the organ for which Jongen originally wrote this music) features so many individual sounds which often imitate the colors of an orchestra, all available at the fingertips of one organist, the piece is not merely a concerto—rather, the organist is simultaneously several soloists as well as accompanist.”
The concerts on September 27 and 29 at Trinity College Chapel 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 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 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.
Parking and accessibility: Parking for the Festival events at the Trinity College Chapel is allowed in any campus parking spot, including those marked for college registered vehicles. The parking spaces closest to the Chapel 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 https://map.trincoll.edu.
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Interviews: For more information about the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, or to schedule an interview with Vaughn Mauren, Artistic Director of the Festival, or any of the competitors, please contact Sarah Hager Johnston at email@example.com or 860-676-2228. To schedule an interview with HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan, please contact Amanda Savio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-760-7317.
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 www.asofhartford.org.
About Organist Christopher Houlihan: The organist Christopher Houlihan has established an international reputation as an "intelligently virtuoso musician” (Gramophone), hailed for his "glowing, miraculously life-affirming performances" (Los Angeles Times). Houlihan has performed at Disney Concert Hall with principal brass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, presented by the Philadelphia Orchestra; and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., presented by the National Symphony Orchestra. TheLos Angeles Times raved about his Disney Hall debut, proclaiming, "Houlihan is the next big organ talent." Highlights of Mr. Houlihan’s 2019-20 season include performances of Joseph Jongen’s Symphonie Concertante with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (opening concert of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival) and the St. Ann’s Festival Orchestra in Washington D.C.; solo recitals in St. Louis, Seattle, New York City, Eureka (CA), Rohnert Park (CA), and Birmingham (AL); and chamber performances as part of the Screendoor Summer Music Festival in Camden, Maine. Christopher Houlihan has appeared in recital at celebrated venues including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, Glasgow Cathedral in Scotland and San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and Davies Symphony Hall. His orchestral credits include performances with the Hartford Symphony, Columbus (GA) Symphony, and the Boston Chamber Orchestra. Houlihan's “Vierne 2012” tour attracted international attention and critical acclaim for his marathon performances of the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne in six major North American cities. TheLos Angeles Times called his performance there “a major surprise of the summer, a true revelation.” Building on the excitement and acclaim of “Vierne 2012”, in 2020 Christopher Houlihan releases a recording on the Azica label featuring music by Vierne and César Franck. In 2017, Houlihan released “Christopher Houlihan plays Bach” (Azica), which was praised by The Whole Note as “playful, celebratory and sparkling with color.” Houlihan's other recordings include music by Maurice Duruflé and Jehan Alain, and Organ Symphony No. 2 by Louis Vierne, both on Towerhill Records. In 2017 Christopher Houlihan was appointed to the John Rose College Organist-and-Directorship Distinguished Chair of Chapel Music at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., succeeding his former teacher John Rose. He was previously artist-in-residence at Trinity College, as well as Director of Music and Organist at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan. In addition to his studies at Trinity College, Houlihan studied with the Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School, where he earned a master's degree, and with Jean-Baptiste Robin at the French National Regional Conservatory in Versailles. More information is at ChristopherHoulihan.com.
About the Hartford Symphony Orchestra: The mission of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is to enrich lives and community through great music. Marking its 76th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020, the HSO is Connecticut’s premier musical organization, the second largest orchestra in New England, and widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan as its tenth music director in January 2011; she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. The HSO captivates and inspires audiences of all ages by presenting more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, HSO: Intermix, Sunday Serenades, Discovery Concerts, Symphony in Schools, Musical Dialogues, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, and more. The HSO aims to deliver uniquely powerful and emotional experiences that lift and transform the spirit, and to give back and help create vibrant communities in the Greater Hartford area. More information is at www.hartfordsymphony.org.
About Carolyn Kuan: Recognized as a conductor of extraordinary versatility, Carolyn Kuan has enjoyed successful associations with top tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide. Her commitment to contemporary music has defined her approach to programming and established her as an international resource for new music and world premieres. Appointed Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in 2011, she signed a six-year contract extending their creative collaboration through May 2022. Highlights of Ms. Kuan’s 2018/2019 season included debuts with the Singapore Symphony; Santa Barbara Symphony, featuring John Corigliano’s Red Violin; and the Portland Opera, conducting a production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola; as well as engagements with two of the top conservatory orchestras in the U.S., the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, and Yale Philharmonia. She will end her season with a world premiere of Iain Bell’s Stonewall with the New York City Opera at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. Upcoming engagements in her 2019/2020 season include the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun with the Santa Fe Opera; her debut with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; and a return engagement with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Kuan’s North American engagements have included performances with the symphonies of Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, Omaha, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto; the Florida and Louisville orchestras; the New York City Ballet; the Colorado Music Festival and Glimmerglass Festival; the New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Washington National Opera. Recent international engagements have included concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Residentie Orkest, Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan, Royal Danish Ballet, and the West Australian Symphony. Recipient of numerous awards, Ms. Kuan holds the distinction of being the first woman to be awarded the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship by the Herbert von Karajan Centrum and American Austrian Foundation in 2003, resulting in her residency at the 2004 Salzburg Festival. Winner of the first Taki Concordia Fellowship, she has received additional awards from the Women’s Philharmonic, Conductors Guild, and Susan W. Rose Fund for Music. Ms. Kuan graduated cum laude from Smith College, received a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois, and a Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory. More information is at www.carolynkuan.com
About the Trinity College Chapel Organ: The extraordinary pipe organ at Trinity College Chapel was built in 1971 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The late Professor Clarence Watters (Trinity College organist from 1932-1969), who worked with Austin to design this instrument, described it as a “neo-classic” organ that employs the best principles of the past three centuries of organ building. With more than 4,429 pipes made of varying materials that range in size from that of a pencil to a small tree, the organ can match the power and variety of an orchestra as it evokes the tonal colors of many orchestral instruments as well as those unique to the organ. The organ was specially designed for the Chapel space and is periodically updated with new technology that enables it to grow and evolve. The organ’s casework and façade layout is the work of designer Charles Nazarian, Trinity College ’73 and was inspired by classical French organ cases. In 2013, the organ was fitted with new actions; a new console, incorporating several revisions and the addition of a fourth manual, was built and installed by Austin Organs. Detailed organ specifications are available at bit.ly/TrinityChapelOrgan. The Chapel itself, designed by the firm of Frohman, Robb & Little (also architects of Washington National Cathedral), is a Hartford landmark and a building of national significance because of its pre-eminence among neo-Gothic structures in America. The Chapel was consecrated in 1932 by the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, Edward Campion Acheson. A guide to the unique decorations in the Chapel is available at bit.ly/TrinChapelArch.
The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford
Our mission is to encourage and inspire excellence in organ performance by emerging artists at both the high-school and young professional levels.
Christopher Houlihan, an internationally-acclaimed organist who also holds the John Rose College Organist-and-Directorship Distinguished Chair of Chapel Music at Trinity College in Hartford
Carolyn Kuan, Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The 4429-pipe organ at Trinity College Chapel was built in 1971 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The organ was specially designed for the Chapel space and is periodically updated with new technology. (Photo by Len Levasseur)
Our mission is to encourage and inspire excellence in organ performance by emerging artists at both the high-school and young professional levels.