College Celebrates 26th Annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford

3 min read

Hannah Lorenzo ’24

A&E Editor

The Trinity College and Hartford community joined together in a celebration of organ music at the 26th Annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford on Saturday, Sept. 23 in the Chapel.

Since 2016, Trinity has hosted this annual organ festival named after Albert Schweitzer, an organist and scholar well-known for his music studies on Johann Sebastian Bach. The festival holds one of North America’s top organ competitions for high school and young professional organists to showcase and support their music journeys.

This year’s festival consisted of three main events. Bruce Xu, the first-prize and audience-prize winner of the 2022 festival, returned to Trinity to perform an organ recital. The festival hosted the high school division competition the next day, and Daniel Colaner, a student from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was named the winner. Colaner and the Chapel Singers performed at the festival concert that same night.

Christopher Houlihan ’09, John Rose Distinguished College Organist and director of Chapel Music, is the festival’s artistic director. Houlihan expressed the importance that the festival has for the living history of organ music and its reach across Hartford and the U.S.

“This festival works to bring the community to campus to appreciate this music,” Houlihan said. “It connects student music-making on our campus with choirs from the community, audiences from the community, and young organists coming from around the country to make music here.”

The festival’s location at the Trinity College Chapel also honors Trinity’s history of the chapel’s architecture and ongoing music traditions in Hartford.

Houlihan said, “Audiences really love coming to this unique building, to hear this amazing pipe organ, in a space that’s very special in the region and city.”

At the festival concert, the Chapel Singers sang with two choirs from Connecticut, Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus and The Choirs of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church, Hartford.

Daniel Lenois ’25, neuroscience major and applied mathematics minor, shared what it was like to perform with the choirs as part of the Chapel Singers. “Having another choir sing with us is very different, but it’s also a lot more relieving because there’s not as much pressure on us,” Lenois said. “It’s also fun to sing with other people that we’ve never sung with before. We always like doing collaborations with other groups, especially in the Hartford area.”

The Chapel Singers performed music pieces that not only reach back to five centuries, but also signifies the diversity of organ music through the variety of languages and cultures they engaged with. Some notable pieces from this year’s concert include Gaspar Fernandes’s 17th century “Tieycantimo Choquiliya” that was sung in Spanish and the indigenous Mexican language of Nahuatl, and Benjamin Britten’s 20th century “Rejoice in the Lamb.”

Madison Thompson ’25, music and French major and member of the Chapel Singers, reflected on the culmination of the work toward making the festival a success.

“We came together with these two wonderful choirs, and we get to treat the City of Hartford to this that is right here on our campus, Trinity students, and everyone else who comes out and enjoys it,” Thompson said. “ I’ve really enjoyed every single piece we’ve done together; it’s an absolute joy to sing with others.”

Learn more about the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford at asofhartford.org

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