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Rich with Music and Human Kindness

The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford
announces winners of the Young Professional Division
(US) national competition - Alexander Pattavina,
Joseph Russell and Elena Baquerizo


'Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter - to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way.' - Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford has announced that Alexander Pattavina, of New York, NY is the winner of the Young Professional Division of the festival, one of the USA's most prestigious pipe organ competitions.

Alexander Pattavina is a second-year graduate student in the organ studio of Paul Jacobs at Juilliard, where he also earned his Bachelor's degree. He is the Director of Music at the Church of Saint Agnes in New York City. A native of Stoughton, Massachusetts, Alex received First Prize in the 2014 L Cameron Johnson Competition sponsored by the Northeastern Connecticut Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and was also awarded the 2014 Ruth and Paul Manz Scholarship from the Lutheran Seminary in Chicago. Formerly, he worked as Organ Scholar of Christ Church in Bronxville, NY under composer and conductor Philip Stopford. Alex was an editor and proofer for The St Paul's Hymnal (2015), and his composition for choir and organ, All in a Stable Cold and Bare, was recently published by Hal Leonard. Alex has performed with the Juilliard Orchestra and performs frequently on the East and West coasts.

Alexander Pattavina
Alexander Pattavina

Now in its twenty-third season, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford brings some of the USA's best young organists to Hartford to perform - and compete - on the renowned Austin organ at Trinity College Chapel in Hartford, Connecticut.

'The 2019 festival featured our Young Professional Division competition, one of the top three organ competitions in North America', said Vaughn Mauren, the Festival's Artistic Director. 'This year we awarded US$28,500 in prize money, the largest single-year sum in festival history.'

Pattavina was awarded the first place prize of $15,000; the second place prize of $7,500 was awarded to Joseph Russell of Houston, Texas; and the third place prize of $3,500 was awarded to Elena Baquerizo of New York, NY.

An additional award of $2,500, given in memory of festival co-founder David Spicer, was presented to Joseph Russell, the winner of the hymn-playing competition.

Joseph Russell recently received his Master's degree in Organ Performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, with renowned professor Ken Cowan. Prior to his studies at Rice, Russell received his Bachelor's degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, studying organ with Alan Morrison. Russell was a recipient of the Stephanie Yen-Mun Liem Azar Fellowship. He also studied harpsichord and continuo playing at Curtis with Leon Schelhase. Russell also graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied organ with Thomas Bara and was a recipient of the Fine Arts award. A native of Grayslake, Illinois, he previously studied organ with Elizabeth Naegele and piano with Donna Fortney and Ruth Peck. Russell has performed at many notable venues across the United States and Europe, including the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, The Kimmel Center of Philadelphia, St Patrick's Cathedral (NYC), Longwood Gardens (PA), Hill Auditorium (MI), St Mary, the Virgin (NYC), the Musée des Augustins (Toulouse), and the Felix Mendelssohn Conservatory (Leipzig).

Joseph Russell
Joseph Russell

Russell has participated in numerous competitions, including the 2019 Miami International Organ Competition, where he won Second Place and the Audience Prize; the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, where he won both First Prize and the Hymn Playing Award, and the 2013 Chicago Regional AGO competition, which he won. Russell is Organist at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston, Interim Organist at St Philip's Presbyterian Church, and Artistic Assistant for Ars Lyrica. While at Curtis, he was the Organ Scholar at St Paul's Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, under the direction of Zach Hemenway. In the summer of 2017, when the choir was in residence at St Paul's Cathedral in London, Russell was the organist in residence.

'These prizes are truly artistic grants', said Mauren, 'meant to ease the burdens of student loans and living expenses, while providing our laureates the means to pursue additional musical opportunities.'

Baquerizo and Pattavina study organ at The Juilliard School with renowned organist Paul Jacobs, who was winner of the festival's first Young Professional competition in 1998. Russell recently completed a degree in organ performance at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, having studied there with acclaimed organist Ken Cowan, and previously at the Curtis Institute of Music with highly-regarded organist Alan Morrison. All three of the finalists have garnered awards in prestigious organ-playing competitions, including the Schweitzer Festival, where Joseph Russell won the High School Division in 2012.

A recent prizewinner in the American Guild of Organists/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists, Elena Baquerizo currently studies organ with Dr Paul Jacobs at Juilliard, where she is pursuing a BM degree. Originally from South Florida, she has given organ performances and played for services in both Americas. Concert appearances have included Church of the Epiphany (Miami, FL), Marble Collegiate Church (New York, NY), and the Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene, OR). Service playing venues have included Seminario Nuestra Señora Corredentora (La Reja, Argentina), Iglesia del Corazón Inmaculado y Doloroso de MarĂ­a (Santiago, Chile), and Assumption Chapel in St Marys, Kansas. She has been the recipient of several organ performance awards, such as the M Louise Miller-Paul E Knox Scholarship, second prize in the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford, and first prize in the East Carolina University Young Artists Competition. Currently, she is organist at Our Lady of Peace Church in Brooklyn, NY.

Miss Baquerizo is also passionate about the piano in its solo and collaborative roles. She has won third place in the Ray Millette Young Artist Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Alhambra Orchestra in Ransom-Everglades School (Coconut Grove, Florida). She has also given solo piano recitals in Reilly Arts Center (Ocala, FL) and Miami-Dade College's McCarthy Hall. She has collaborated with choirs, singers, and instrumentalists of varying levels, including Dr Andrew Childs in a performance of Schubert's Winterreise at St Mary's McCabe Theater (St Marys, KS). Miss Baquerizo received her AA in Liberal Arts from St Mary's College (Saint Marys, KS), where she graduated as valedictorian. A chant aficionado, she sang in an adaptation of Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum in April 2018 and has performed many of the Propers of the Mass with her sisters. She studied voice with Dr Andrew Childs, Associate Dean of St Mary's College and former Managing Coordinator of Voice and Opera at the Yale School of Music.

'Each of these extraordinarily talented young organists performed with real technical mastery and superb musicianship', Mauren added. 'It was a tough decision even for our expert judges - organists Diane Meredith Belcher, Thomas Murray, and John Rose - each of whom is highly-respected as performing artist, teacher, and adjudicator.'

During the competition, each finalist performed a forty-five-minute solo recital on the 4,429-pipe Hartford-built Austin organ in Trinity College Chapel, presenting a program that met stringent competition requirements. After the awards were conferred, first place winner Pattavina performed a second solo recital for the assembled audience.

Following a choral evensong service, the finalists competed once more, this time for the David Spicer Hymn Playing Award, demonstrating the ability to inspire and lead several hundred people in song. A second panel of judges - Festival Artistic Director Vaughn Mauren, competition judge Thomas Murray, and Benjamin Straley, former organist at Washington National Cathedral - presented the David Spicer Hymn Playing Award, worth $2,500, to Joseph Russell.

'Since its founding in 1996 by David Spicer at First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival, now hosted by Trinity College Chapel in Hartford, has existed not only as an important musical event, but as an opportunity to develop meaningful collaborations between a growing number of artistic, community, and business partners,' said Robert C Bausmith, chair of the Festival's Board of Directors. 'Through our partnerships with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Trinity College, and the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University, we have been able to bring this extraordinary music to a broader audience than ever before, drawing people to Hartford from across the region and beyond.'

An enthusiastic audience of about three hundred people attended the competition events on Saturday 28 September, including many local and regional organists and organ students, music lovers, and those curious to learn more about pipe organs and organ performance. At the concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed organist Christopher Houlihan on 27 and 29 September 2019, Trinity Chapel was filled to capacity with listeners drawn to the event from across the region and beyond.

23rd Annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition
Publicity for the 23rd Annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition

The extraordinary pipe organ at Trinity College Chapel was built in 1971 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The late Professor Clarence Watters, Trinity College organist, 1932-1969, who worked with Austin to design this instrument, described it as a 'neo-classic' organ employing the best principles of the past three centuries of organ building. With more than 4,429 pipes made of varying materials that range in size from that of a pencil to a small tree, the organ can match the power and variety of an orchestra as it evokes the tonal colors of many orchestral instruments as well as those unique to the organ. The organ was specially designed for the Chapel space and is periodically updated with new technology that enables it to grow and evolve. The organ's casework and façade layout is the work of designer Charles Nazarian, Trinity College '73, and was inspired by classical French organ cases. In 2013, the organ was fitted with new actions; a new console, incorporating several revisions and the addition of a fourth manual, was built and installed by Austin Organs. The Chapel itself, designed by the firm of Frohman, Robb & Little, also architects of Washington National Cathedral, is a Hartford landmark and a building of national significance because of its pre-eminence among neo-Gothic structures in America. The Chapel was consecrated in 1932 by the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut.

'Many people are familiar with the pipe organ in a liturgical or church setting, but there is also a rich repertoire of concert music for solo organ', added Mauren. 'All the Festival events - the professional competition, choral evensong, and the concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra - centered on the magnificent Austin Organ at Trinity College Chapel. This organ, crafted by Hartford's own Austin Organ Company, is renowned among organists and choral musicians, and it's been exciting to introduce new listeners to the splendour and vast color palette of this unique instrument.'

The dual purpose of the Festival, named after the humanitarian and organist Albert Schweitzer, is to encourage young organists and to enhance the area of organ education, both to support young people studying the organ and to increase general appreciation of the pipe organ and of organ music.

'Dr Schweitzer, well-known as humanitarian and physician, was also an accomplished organist and organ scholar, and believed strongly in music not only as a healing art, but as a powerful tool to foster relationships and inspire service to others', added Bausmith. 'By encouraging and inspiring excellence in organ performance, and by supporting the development of outstanding young organists, the Festival furthers Dr Schweitzer's vision of a world rich with music and human kindness.'

Posted 6 October 2019 by Sarah Hager Johnston




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