Colorado State Announces Historic $1.5 Million ‘Golden Chair’ in Liturgical Organ Studies

Note to Editors: Print-quality digital images of the Goldens and of the Casavant Organ, as well as fact sheets about the Goldens, the Casavant Organ and endowed chairs at Colorado State, are available by contacting Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

At a special ceremony in front of one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated pipe organs, Colorado State University officials today announced the establishment of the Stewart and Sheron Golden Endowed Chair in Liturgical Organ Studies. The endowed chair, made possible by a $1.5 million gift from Colorado State alumni Stewart and Sheron Golden, is establishing one of the nation’s only liturgical, or church-style, organ studies programs at the university and is the first endowed chair for the College of Liberal Arts.

"Stewart and Sheron Golden’s dedication to the arts is strengthening an already exceptional university department and establishing Colorado State as a national leader in a beautiful and popular style of musical performance," said Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley. "The Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair in Liturgical Organ Studies is a catalyst for the college’s efforts to continue as a center of excellence in the arts. This generous gift highlights the significant ways private giving helps shape the future of teaching, research and public service at Colorado State."

Stewart Golden graduated from Colorado State with a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1963, and Sheron Golden graduated from the university in 1962 with an undergraduate degree in

vocational home economics education. Both Stewart and Sheron are second-generation alumni of Colorado State, and the Golden family has a strong, 30-year history of support to athletics, music and the university at large. Stewart and Sheron Golden’s recent gift solidifies their personal commitment to establish a world-leading, professionally based organ program at the university.

"By establishing this position and this program, Sheron and I hope to secure the future of a world-class program in liturgical organ studies and assure the continuation of liturgical organ study, teaching, research and performance at Colorado State University," said Stewart Golden.

Nationwide, liturgical music is a strong growth area in music education, and there is a great need for professionally trained performers in this specialty. However, there also is a lack of professional education programs available to accommodate this demand. The Goldens’ generosity is allowing Colorado State to meet this need and become a national leader in organ performance programs.

"The magnitude of this gift demonstrates Stewart and Sheron Golden’s deep commitment to shaping the future of music and the arts at Colorado State," said Heather Hardy, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "This generous gift will propel our music program to a new level. We are indebted to the Goldens for their commitment to enhance the future of the arts at Colorado State."

Unlike most organ programs around the country that focus specifically on graduate education, the Colorado State program will consist of three components: an undergraduate core program, a graduate program and a continuing education program for practicing musicians. The school’s liturgical organ performance program will additionally include a professional certificate that will be incorporated into all three components. The program is planned to be in place for fall semester 2004 with up to 20 students per semester to start.

"This is a historical event for the arts at Colorado State to receive this kind of recognition," said Michael Thaut, chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. "We are very excited about the positive impact Stewart and Sheron Golden’s generous gift will have in the department, the college, the university and the entire community. Being able to build this shared vision with the Goldens over the past two years has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in my professional life."

A large part of the reason the gift was provided, and why the program can be quickly incorporated into the university’s curriculum, is due to the unique organ resources already available in the Music Building Concert Hall at Colorado State. In 1968, the world-famous Casavant Freres Organ

was installed at the university.

As the first mechanical-action (tracker) organ built at an American university, the Casavant was constructed in a style adhering to the 17th- and 18th -century North German organ-building principles. It was built by Lawrence I. Phelps, known as one of the world’s great organ builders, and was specifically designed for the Colorado State Concert Hall. The design and quality of the Casavant organ has earned Colorado State an international reputation as the keeper of one of the finest organs built in the 20th century.

In 1968, 25,000 pounds of intricately fashioned parts and hundreds of board feet of solid oak casework were delivered to campus, and it took a total of 10 weeks to complete the installation and tonal work. The organ, valued at more than $750,000, includes 2,079 pipes, a 56-note keyboard, a 32-note pedalboard and 34 stops. The sweep of the organ’s pipes fill the entire north wall of the hall – the tallest pipes reach 19 feet.

With the addition of the Golden Chair announced today, endowed chairs at Colorado State now total 16, an increase of 11 within the past three years since university officials began a new effort to increase endowed chairs at the university.

Funds given to establish endowed chairs are permanently invested by the Colorado State University Foundation, and the interest generated is used to support the chair. The principal amount is never drawn upon, so endowments allow continuous funding to supplement the chairholder’s salary, graduate student work, research and activities tied to industry. In addition, endowed chairs help the university to attract and retain top-quality faculty.

The Goldens live in Longmont and own Diamond G. Management, LLC. Stewart’s grandfather, Vane Golden, started the Golden Companies in 1904 in Longmont as a hauling and transport company. Eventually, the company expanded into concrete and aggregates. Stewart, with his son Reggie, eventually took over running the company until they sold it in 1999. Stewart and Reggie currently operate a number of companies under the Diamond G and Golden names.

The Goldens, both fans of auto racing, and are very active in their church and their community, donating time and money to a wide variety of Longmont and Northern Colorado causes. Stewart is an accomplished organist, and the couple has contributed substantially to the preservation of liturgical organ music throughout Colorado.