2021 Eccles Organ Festival kicks off Sept. 12

Friday, Sep. 03, 2021
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY – The organizers and artists of the Eccles Organ Festival are excited to bring a lineup of live performances to the Cathedral of the Madeleine this year. Although in 2020 the festival was able to go forward with in-person performances, it did have to be redesigned due to emergency protocols, festival director Gabriele Terrone said.

This year’s festival will feature four solo organ recitals. The performers will be Salt Lake City Tabernacle organist Joseph Peeples; Benjamin LaPrairie, organist at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; Paul Jacobs of the Juilliard School of Music; and Bruce Neswick, organist at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

During the concerts, live feed from the organ gallery will be projected onto a large screen to the side of the cathedral’s altar. All of the concerts are free of charge; no tickets or reservations are needed.

“For almost 30 years we have been offering these concerts without burdening the audience with the need to get a ticket,” Terrone said.

The festival will follow the health protocols in place at the cathedral at the time of the concerts and events – currently, face masks are required for those entering the building. All concerts will also be livestreamed on the festival’s YouTube channel.

In addition, the brass section of the Utah Symphony will perform a Christmas concert with Terrone, the cathedral’s organist, on Dec. 12.

“In this our third year, we’re hoping to go back to a larger ensemble involving a larger group of brass  players from the Utah Symphony,” Terrone said.

In two special recitals on May 1 and May 22, Terrone will perform César Franck’s complete Organ Works to celebrate the composer’s 200th birthday.

“César Franck is probably the most important composer of organ music after Johann Sebastian Bach,” Terrone said. “These are very important works because they paved the way for the romantic symphonic organ school. Everything that happened in the last 150 years in the organ world is really connected with what César Franck did. He changed the view of the instrument, so his works permit a use of the organ that was not even thought of before as a symphonic instrument.”

He added, “I’m really happy to be able to perform these complete works at the cathedral because of the fantastic organ and the acoustics that we have.”

The festival will also offer opportunities in January and May for people to see the organ up close. There is sometimes a disconnect between the organ and the audience at the cathedral because it is located in the gallery above and behind them, Terrone said.

“Just to close this gap, I have been doing these and inviting people into the gallery on these nights,” he said. “The people can come up, learn about the functioning of the organ, they can see; they can touch, they can play; they can take pictures and videos. It’s a very unassuming and engaging evening.”

For information or to sign up for the gallery nights, visit ecclesorganfestival.com.

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