SALT LAKE CITY — World-class music performed by world-renowned musicians: it’s a gift the Eccles Organ Festival gives to the greater community in Utah every year with six free recitals at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
The Festival is halfway through its 25th season – a milestone it will celebrate with a recital that highlights a new piece especially commissioned for this anniversary. On Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. the Festival will present the world premiere of “Preludio, Cantilena e Finale,” (Prelude, Lullaby and Finale), by Fabrizio Callai, a graduate of Genoa, Italy’s Niccolò Paganini Conservatory of Music.
Callai, now a professor of music education and choir director at the Germanic School of Genoa, is an accomplished organist, conductor and composer. In 2014, an original score by Callai took second place at the International Competition of Sacred Music Composition Benedict XVI. He had a free hand in composing the Eccles Organ Festival anniversary piece.
“I did not put any constraints on him for this piece except to ask that it be a substantial work of around 15 minutes in length and be suitable for an ensemble,” Festival Director Gabriele Terrone said.
The recital will feature the organ played by Terrone, who is the cathedral organist, and members of the Madeleine Brass Ensemble playing three trumpets, three trombones and a field drum.
“Brass works very well for concerts and adds sparkle and jubilance,” Terrone said.
The program for that evening is built around the piece by Callai, which contains “elements of heroism, along with nostalgia and the contemplation of nature,” Terrone said.
To open the 90-minute concert, Terrone transcribed Marco E. Bossi’s short processional “Entrée pontificale Op. 104 No. 1.” The ensemble and organ will also perform a transcription of Francis Poulenc’s “Suite Française” by Terrone.
“The Poulenc piece is apparently unassuming but is actually very substantial,” Terrone said. “My aim was to find something a little lighter to go with the rest of the program but still aligned with the overall idea of contemplation, nostalgia and heroism.”
Terrone will perform two organ solos: César A. Franck’s “Pastorale Op. 19” from “Six Pièces pour Grand Orgue” and “Poème Héroïque Op. 33” by Marcel Dupré, written in 1935 to commemorate the Battle of Verdun, one of bloodiest battles of World War I.
All the pieces were chosen by Terrone to complement the new composition. Those who attend the concert can expect to hear “a variety of sounds and combinations” and to experience “a variety of emotions that they would never expect,” he said. “There is such a huge variety of sounds that can be experienced in an organ recital.”
To help provide a visual element to the concert, images of Terrone playing the organ will be projected onto a large screen in the cathedral’s sanctuary.
The penultimate Festival recital will be a Feb. 10 performance by organist and master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey, England, James O’Donnell, who is widely considered to be the finest organist in the world. O’Donnell will perform works by Bach, Stanford, de Grigny and Franck.
The concluding recital on March 10 will feature Stuttgart University master’s degree candidate Katelyn Emerson, who won first prize in the 2016 AGO National Young Artists’ Competition in organ performance. She will perform pieces by Rheinberger, Tournemire and Laurin.
Salt Lake City audiences have been blessed by the festival’s offerings, including being able to see some of the finest organists in the world perform in a magnificent setting free of charge, Terrone said. This would not be possible without the support of the Festival’s generous donors, including the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Salt Lake chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Grand America and many individual donors, he said.
WHAT: Eccles Organ Festival recital
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 13, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Free and open to the public.