I admit it—I’m a Hallo-weenie. I’m easily startled (I suspect I’m distantly related to those fainting goats), and I have zero appetite for blood and guts. But I do like a little shiver on Halloween and decided to see if I could find one at the CSU School of the Arts 5th Annual Halloween Organ Extravaganza.
CSU’s famed Casavant Organ (at left) was built for the music building in 1968, thanks to the efforts of late professor emeritus Robert Cavarra. The massive instrument has 2,096 pipes, a 56-note keyboard, a 32-note pedal board, and 34 stops. After lengthy and painstaking cleaning and restoration, the organ was reassembled in its new home in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts—which I will always know as the “old Fort Collins High School”—and had its UCA debut in February, 2009.
After handing out candy to the neighborhood goblins, I wore my best rags—mummy–style, of course—down to the UCA for the 9:00 show. At the opening notes of the seasonal standard Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor (for a fun look and listen, click here), I found my shiver. And a few goosebumps, as well.
Who's yo' mummy?
Mozart called the organ the “king of instruments” for good reason. Organs produce an astounding range of sounds--delicate and whimsical, or powerful enough to vibrate bone marrow. (Learn more about the mechanics here). I have trouble walking and chewing gum, and I can’t imagine the coordination needed to master an instrument that requires the simultaneous participation of both hands and both feet. But that was not a problem for the ten fantastically talented CSU organ students, some of whom are in just their first semester under the instruction of Dr. Joel Bacon, Assistant Professor of Organ and Harpsichord, and Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair of Organ and Liturgical Studies (whew...say that three times fast).
Dr. Joel "Sunny-Side Up"Bacon
The CSU Faculty Brass Quintet was also on hand to perform Through the Haunted Carnival. This "Hallows Eve Medley" (comp. Nicole Buetti) had me picturing red-eyed carousel horses and creepy clowns (but I think all circus clowns are kind of creepy). The Quintet followed up with the familiar-but-fun “Night on Bald Mountain.”
"Trumpet Player Blows Top"
The performance appeared to be a sell-out, and the “wildly popular” concert will no doubt return next year. What better way to celebrate my new Halloween philosophy: organs = bad; organ music = good!