CSU celebrates 50 years of the pipe organ with week-long concert series

Maddie Wright

The organ stands as one of the most underrated instruments.

But luckily Colorado State dedicates a whole week each year to the magnificent instrument and the artists who can make the pipes sing. 

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This past week marked the 6th annual Colorado State Organ Week, complete with four concerts, daytime lectures and classes by world-renowned organists from across the country. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the CSU Casavant Organ.

a professor smiles at the crowd
Dr. Joel Bacon, an associate professor of organ in the school of music, theatre and dance performed a recital with Caleb Hudson, a trumpet player, on June 6. (Rebecca Eisele | Collegian)

This was the first year to include multiple masterclasses and lectures Monday through Thursday.

“Somebody told me today that they were excited that they actually got to play organ here for the first time just to touch these keys, some of you actually went inside, climbed ladders, and learned all about it,” said CSU associate professor of organ, Dr. Joel Bacon while addressing the audience during the closing concert. “It’s really pretty special.”

The concerts had a generous and attentive audience of both students and community members alike.

“It means so much to see so many friends and friends of the organ,” Bacon said.

The events began Monday and, after the day’s activities, ended a with Baroque Concertos for Organ and Harpsichord. This evening concert featured three organists and two harpsichordists from the Fort Collins Symphony all conducted by Wes Kenney, CSU’s Director of Orchestras. Two harpsichords were used throughout the show in different pieces as another key based instrument used during the Renaissance and Baroque pieces.

Tuesday ended with Ken Cowan, Solo Organ Recital. Cowan is a well-known organist who has performed internationally in major concert venues and churches.

“That last piece was just the fanciest footwork I have seen in quite some time,” said community member, Mary Gibson, about the Cowan concert.

CSU recently celebrated 50 years of housing organs with Organ Week, a weeklong celebration of concerts and lectures. (Rebecca Eisele | Collegian)

Wednesday featured Music for Trumpet and Organ. This was a duo recital featuring CSU’s Dr. Bacon and Juilliard alumni Caleb Hudson of the Canadian Brass on the trumpet.

This performance was the only one not performed at the UCA but rather at the First United Methodist Church in Fort Collins, providing emphasis to the religious connotation of the Organ. 

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Dr. Bacon also joked that the organ and trumpet go together like Bacon and eggs, in reference to his own name.

The week ended with what could be called a whole organ spectacular experience. Back in the UCA Organ Recital Hall with an almost bare stage except for the immense and breathtaking pipe organ, five organists performed pieces including worldly acclaimed organists, CSU alumni and Dr. Joel Bacon for the CSU Organ Week Closing Concert.

“I think that more people need to find out about organ week and come out next year,” Gibson said. “I know Joel puts a lot of work and effort into it and it’s just a love of his to be able to share it with the community and he wants to share this beautiful music with everybody. So I really just hope that it continues to be as popular as it has been and grows even more.”

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @MaddieRWright.