For the fifth consecutive year, Organ Week, a summer music camp and organ festival at Colorado State University, takes place the first full week of June. Daily instruction for high school students, and nightly performances featuring world-renowned soloists performing major solo and collaborative works, are scheduled at both the University Center for the Arts and First United Methodist Church in Fort Collins.
From June 5 to 8, the community is invited to nightly concerts, including guest artist solo recitals, and an evening of organ concertos with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra conducted by Wes Kenney.
“Our guest artists regularly play with some of the best orchestras in the world, but always enjoy working with Wes Kenney, and playing our fabulous organ,” said Joel Bacon, Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair of Organ and Liturgical Studies at CSU.
Performers and instructors
For 2017, guest performers and instructors include Bacon; James David Christie, professor and chair of organ at Oberlin Conservatory; Joyce Jones, professor emerita at Baylor University School of Music; Ken Cowan, head of organ at Rice University, Shepherd School of Music; and Andrew Steinberg, organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minnesota, and chapel organist at Concordia College.
This summer, Bacon is particularly excited about the Fort Collins Symphony concert at the beginning of the week. Since his Ph.D. dissertation was on works for organ and orchestra, he’s been fascinated with the development of this portion of the annual festival and revels in the repeated opportunities to study and perform major concertos that it provides.
“I’ve learned new repertoire, and we’ve created many unique and powerful concerts,” he said. “It’s almost an overwhelming experience, as there’s something really special about being in the organ hall and having all of those strings up close and personal.”
Regular patrons of Organ Week, as well as the Halloween Organ Extravaganza, have come to expect unusual and creative aspects when Bacon is involved, and his solo recital on Tuesday, June 6, will be just that. Zwei Brewing Co. of Fort Collins will provide beer outside of the Organ Recital Hall lobby following the concert (included with your ticket purchase for patrons of legal drinking age).
Zwei owners Kirk and Eric Lombardi are excited to contribute to the festivities. The brothers, who both attended high school when the University Center for the Arts was Fort Collins High School, have been friends of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance since the brewery opened a couple years ago. Their flagship lager NeueVienna was originally brewed for the School’s polka band, Neue Polka Colorado, and will be served in honor of the recital’s large Viennese piece, Chaconne, by Franz Schmidt. It will be paired with a special Gose, brewed for the occasion.
Gose, an unfiltered wheat beer that is slightly tart and salty, was introduced to the German city of Leipzig in 1738. Bacon’s interest in the beer style has a direct connection to his recital, which features pieces by J.S. Bach. “Bach moved to Leipzig in 1723 and lived there until his death in 1750, so you know Bach and his boys knocked back a Gose or two in their day!” he said.
Of course Organ Week would not exist without the educational component designed for high school students interested in expanding (or beginning) their organ study. Led by the faculty of prominent concert and church organists, the program includes one-to-one instruction, master classes, and recitals on the finest pipe organs in northern Colorado. Students will also study the art of organ building, develop skills in choral conducting and receive harpsichord instruction as well.
Bacon welcomes the wide range of playing experience represented at the camp, and many students return year and after year.
Bacon was recently contacted by such a student who is already prepared for 2017. “He is so excited to come back, as he’s made some of his best friends during Organ Week,” said Bacon. “He’s learned Bach’s Fantasia in G major and can’t wait to play it for his friends.”
The camp also meets a need for students without organ training in their region, including a new high school student from Wyoming. “She had a hard time finding a teacher, so she’s taught herself the Toccata and Fugue [Bach] and can’t wait to come so she can work with an actual organist,” he said.
The level of playing is often highly advanced. “It surprised me last year during the closing camp concert that it was some of the highest playing I’ve ever heard by high school students anywhere,” said Bacon.
Organ Week has become a cherished summer staple at the University Center for the Arts.
An Evening of Organ and Orchestra
With the Fort Collins Symphony, conducted by Wes Kenney
Soloists: Joel Bacon, James David Christie, Ken Cowan
Monday, June 5, 7:30 p.m., Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Tickets: No charge/CSU students; $19/adults; $1/youth
By George Frederic Handel, Marco Enrico Bossi, Malcolm Arnold, and Jean Langlais.
Joel Bacon, Solo Organ Recital
Tuesday, June 6, 7:30 p.m., Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Beer reception following the concert sponsored by Zwei Brewing Co.
Tickets: No charge/CSU students; $16/adults; $1/youth
Music in the Museum Concert Series Reprise/FREE
Joel Bacon, harpsichord; Eleanor Moseman, art historian
Wednesday, June 7, 11 a.m., Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, UCA
Originally performed in April, the popular recital/lecture will be performed against the backdrop of works of art including Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculpture.
Ken Cowan, Solo Organ Recital/FREE
Wednesday, June 7, 7:30 p.m.
First United Methodist Church, 1005 Stover St, Fort Collin
Thursday, June 8, afternoon (time TBA), Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Organ Week All Stars
Featuring: Joyce Jones, James David Christie, Ken Cowan, Joel Bacon, Andrew Steinberg, and the NOCO Artists String Quintet
Thursday, June 8, 7:30 p.m., Organ Recital Hall, UCA
Tickets: No charge/CSU students; $16/adults; $1/youth
Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts ticket office 60 minutes prior to performances or online at CSUArtsTickets.com. Due to event popularity, advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.