SALT LAKE CITY—Those who attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeline regularly get to enjoy the dulcet tones of the cathedral’s organ. The annual Eccles Organ Festival, now in its 25th year, aims to share that experience with the greater community.
This season, from September to March, the festival will feature six monthly organ recitals. Highlights include an Oct. 14 performance by Cathedral of Notre Dame (Paris, France) organist Olivier Latry, whom festival director Gabriele Terrone calls “the most famous concert organist in the world today.”
James O’Donnell, the organist at Westminster Abbey (London, England), will perform at the Feb. 10 recital. O’Donnell helped found The Madeline Choir School and is “a good friend to the cathedral and the choir school,” Terrone said. “It will be great to have him back. He is an exceptional choir conductor and organ performer, one of the best in the world.”
Mormon Tabernacle Choir organist Andrew Unsworth will kick off the season with a Sept. 9 recital with selections from Bach, Vierne and Whitlock.
Other performers are Monica Czausz, on Nov. 11, and Katelyn Emerson, on March 10.
On Jan. 13 Gabriele Terrone and the Madeline Brass Ensemble will perform the world premiere of “Preludio, Cantilena e Finale” by Fabrizio Callai, a commission of the Eccles Organ Festival to celebrate its silver anniversary.
The festival is generally very well attended, said Terrone, who along with being the festival’s director is assistant director of music and organist at the cathedral. He also is faculty member at The Madeleine Choir School.
“There is great support in this town for such music because of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” Terrone said. “There is a lot of interest in organ music from families, children and organ students, particularly those from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.”
New this year will be Open Gallery Nights, which will be Dec. 7 and Dec. 9. On these nights, a limited number of the public will be able to visit the organ loft, view the organ and possibly play it.
“This is just something to give access to the people to the organ gallery,” Terrone said. “There is a certain kind of mystery when something is inaccessible, unknown.”
The festival’s annual master class, offered by Emerson, a Stuttgart University master’s degree candidate, will be held at Libby Gardner Hall on March 9. Times are limited, so Terrone is asking organists who want to play to apply online.
Also new this year are four post-festival Lenten Sunday evening organ recitals. These will be before the 6 p.m. Mass on March 17, 24 and 31, and April 7. Terrone and local community organists will perform.
“We have this great instrument in the cathedral organ that we use almost every day in a liturgical context, but we are only doing six festival organ recitals each year,” Terrone said. “I really wanted to see the organ showcased on a regular basis to align the Cathedral of the Madeline to many other important places around the world where these kinds of weekly mini-recitals happen all year round. I hope this experience will be successful and we can extend it all year round and give the people an opportunity to listen to the organ on a regular basis outside the liturgical context.”
The Eccles Organ Festival began 25 years ago after the new organ was installed during the cathedral’s renovation. Much of the funding for the organ came from a grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, which asked that its music be shared with the public.
For information on the Eccles Organ Festival, visit Ecclesorganfestival.org.
WHAT: Eccles Organ Festival opens
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Featuring Andrew Unsworth of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who will perform music by Bach, Vierne and Whitlock. Free and open to the public.