Douglas O'Neill

Each year the Eccles Organ Festival at the Cathedral of the Madeleine attracts organists from around the world. Since the festival spans only five concerts (spread out over two months), it's not easy deciding on whom to invite. But each year, the festival brings Salt Lake audiences the widest possible group of performers representing the widest range of styles and repertoire.

And this year's festival is particularly appealing, according to cathedral organist Douglas O'Neill. "We're very excited about it," he said in a phone interview with the Deseret News. "All of them are sound players, and they bring a variety of styles of playing that is attractive."

O'Neill said that he and a committee look at possible performers, and that there are always two international and two national organists and one with a local connection at the festival. "We try to bring in organists from all over."

The repertoire that the five will play range from the German baroque, including J.S. Bach, to large romantic pieces, to French 20th century composers as well as little-known works.

Starting things off today will be Daniel Kerr from Brigham Young University-Idaho. He'll be playing a program weighted toward the French repertoire, including the complete "Symphonie-Passion," op. 23, of Marcel Dupre.

Cristina Garcia Banegas, from the University Music School of Uruguay, who will close out the festival on Nov. 16, has without question chosen the most eclectic program. "She's going to be doing a lot of things people here don't know," O'Neill said. "She has several South American composers on her program, including a piece by Ginastera." Among the works on her concert will be a transcription of a piece by de Falla. "I'm really looking forward to her concert."

As far as unusual programming goes, Delbert Disselhort, from the University of Iowa, and O'Neill's teacher, comes in a close second to Banegas. "He's going to be playing Muffat, Pachelbel and Froberger in the first half. And the second half of the concert includes a piece by Stephen Paulus that was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists. It should be an interesting concert." Disselhorst will perform Oct. 19.

Here is the Eccles Organ Festival schedule. All concerts begin at 8 p.m. and take place in the Cathedral of the Madeleine and are free of charge:

Today: Daniel Kerr (Brigham Young University-Idaho).

Oct. 5: Todd Wilson (Indiana University)

Oct. 19: Delbert Disselhorst (University of Iowa)

Nov. 2: Olivier Vernet (St. Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco)

Nov. 16:Cristina Garcia Banegas (University Music School of Uruguay)

If you go ...

What: Daniel Kerr, organ

Where: Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple

When: Today, 8 p.m.

How much: Free

Phone: 328-8941


E-mail: [email protected]