CSU’s Halloween Pipe Organ Extravaganza is spook-tacular!

Joel Bacon

Halloween isn’t generally known for inspiring love connections. Joel Bacon doesn’t consider himself a matchmaker. And pipe organ music doesn’t have a reputation for sparking romance.

All of those things converged, however, to inspire one of Bacon’s favorite stories from CSU’s annual Halloween Pipe Organ Extravaganza.

“I got a note from a stagehand between shows, and it was from someone thanking me for introducing him to his wife,” Bacon said. “As it turns out, the organ concert had been a first date, so every year they come to celebrate their anniversary at the Halloween Organ Extravaganza!”

Immediately popular

Bacon, who has been teaching organ at CSU for the past 12 years, started the concert – a cornucopia of spooky tunes, costumes and fun – in 2006, unsure if anyone would bother to show up on a night traditionally set aside for trick-or-treating and parties. The program called for 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. shows.

“We thought some students might want to come to a late-night organ concert,” he said.

What Bacon got was a full-on crazy party. The 7 p.m. show not only was sold out, people were sitting on the floors next to the organ. They finally had to turn people away, before adding a 9 p.m. show – which was sold out as well.

“Since then we’ve sold out every year,” he said. “And people say that the organ is a dying instrument!”

Tickets going fast

The 2016 Extravaganza is Halloween night in the Organ Performance Hall at CSU’s University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington St. Shows are at 7 (sold out), 9 and 11 that night.

Audiences can expect to hear a variety of organ music, including the iconic “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by J.S. Bach. Bacon and his organ students are in costume, and attendees are encouraged to dress up as well.

Bacon, who has played throughout the world, holds the Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair in Organ and Liturgical Studies – the first endowed chair in the College of Liberal Arts. While his background is in sacred music, he always looks forward to Halloween.

“My favorite part of the event is when I realize there are people in the audience experiencing live organ music for the first time in their lives,” he said. “Every year I hear people say, ‘I’ve never heard anything like that before! I had no idea the organ could do that!’ ”

This is a free event for CSU students (with ID). Tickets are $1 for youth under 18, $12 for adults. A limited number of tickets for the 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. shows remain. Order online, by phone (970-491-2787) or at the UCA box office.