CSU’s amazing pipe organ featured in lecture

Pipe Organ

Joel Bacon doesn’t attempt to hide his enthusiasm for the pipe organ. Not even close.

Bacon, associate professor of organ in CSU’s Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, will be the next featured speaker in the President’s Community Lecture Series. Bacon’s lecture, titled “Listening to the Past: CSU’s Casavant Organ,” is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to show off the pipe organ to a wider audience,” said Bacon, who has performed throughout Europe and North America. “There’s a good amount of curiosity about the instrument, and I love to educate people about the pipe organ – especially the one we have here at CSU.”

Bacon, who holds the Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair in Organ and Liturgical Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, will talk about CSU’s storied Casavant Organ. The organ was first installed in 1968 at CSU’s old music building (currently The Institute for Learning and Teaching) on the Oval, before being moved to the UCA in 2008.

True genius

The organ was the brainchild of the late Robert Cavarra, who led CSU’s pipe organ program for years, and Lawrence Phelps, who actually built the instrument. It has been widely praised by leading organists from around the world, and is considered a landmark of American organ building.

“People probably thought Cavarra and Phelps were crazy back in 1968 because the organ looks more like a German baroque organ than a university organ – or any other organ in northern Colorado at the time,” Bacon said. “The great story is that the organ itself has proven everybody wrong. When people played it and listened to it, they realized what a stroke of genius it was.”

This will be the 10th edition of the President’s Community Lecture Series. As with past lectures, CSU President Tony Frank serve as the host, posing questions to Bacon. Audience questions will also be encouraged.

Words AND music

The unique aspect of Bacon’s lecture is that he will actually play the organ and not just talk about it. He hopes to play a variety of works to illustrate the variety of sounds the organ can produce.

“It’s hard to play the organ without including some Bach, but I’ll include some unexpected things, too,” he said.

The lecture is free and open to the public but seating is extremely limited, so attendees will be required to RSVP online prior to the event.