Baylor organist helps realize donors’ musical dream

Story by Brandon Adams

Isabelle Demers

Professor Emeritus Robert Cavarra dreamt of having the world’s greatest organists visit Colorado State to perform and share their expertise and passion for knowledgeable audiences. While he was a professor here, he invited world-renowned artists such as Marie-Claire Alain, Luigi Tagliavini, Gillian Weir, E. Power Biggs and Anton Heiller to play during CSU’s original organ weeks.

After he passed away in 2008, Cavarra’s family wanted to establish a sustainable future for his dream. Six years ago, they successfully created the Cavarra Organ Series at CSU. On Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m., the series continues with a performance by Baylor University Assistant Professor of Organ Isabelle Demers in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts.

“I am so excited to be hosting Isabelle Demers at CSU,” said Joel Bacon, Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair of Organ and Liturgical Studies. “She is one of the most amazing organists I have ever heard in performance — breathtaking virtuosity, beautiful musicality and always a fascinating choice of repertoire.”

Demers has the responsibility of heading one of the most prestigious organ programs in the country at Baylor, and thus, has become one of the most sought-after organists of our time.

Demers’ recital features music by the Canadian composer Raymond Daveluy, as well as a set of music based on Christmas carols. The program also includes J. S. Bach’s colorful and ingenious set of variations on the Christmas hymn “Vom himmel hoch,” one of Bach’s last works for organ (1747), and one of the only keyboard works printed in the composer’s own lifetime.

To finish out the concert, Demers will perform a special duet with Bacon, a piece titled Suite on Famous Christmas Carols by German composer Ralf Bölting. The piece references the famous tunes “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “The First Noel” and more.

Duets for organ are much rarer than duets on the piano; given the smaller size of the keyboard and pedalboard, there is simply less room to maneuver four hands and feet. But the results can be quite amazing, allowing both performers to take full advantage of the organ’s three keyboards at once.

Bacon is quite enthusiastic about this last piece. “I’m especially excited that she has asked me to perform a duet with her on the program,” he said. “Working on this piece together has been great fun!”

Tickets for the Demers performance are no charge/CSU students; $1/youth (under 18); and $12/adult. They can be purchased at