Colorado State University Presents the Casavant Organ Debut Festival and Tribute to Robert Cavarra Feb. 20-22

Note to Editors: Photos of the Casavant organ being moved from the CSU Music Building to its new home in the University Center for the Arts are available at by clicking on this press release headline.

After 3,000 hours spent meticulously disassembling, cleaning, restoring, moving and reassembling one of the 25 greatest organs in the world, Colorado State University’s internationally renowned Casavant organ will be celebrated as the university’s School of the Arts presents the debut recital of the organ in its new home. Events take place in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts on Feb. 20-22.

The Casavant Organ Debut Festival includes two concerts by CSU music Assistant Professor Joel Bacon, who is the Stewart and Sheron Golden Endowed Chair of Organ and Liturgical Studies at the university, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, at CSU’s University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington St.

The festival also includes "In celebration of the life of Robert Cavarra," a tribute to Robert N. Cavarra, former professor emeritus of music, and a memorial concert to honor Cavarra’s life and contributions to CSU. Cavarra, who died Feb. 8, 2008, brought international acclaim to CSU by bringing the Casavant organ to campus in 1968. The memorial service and concert will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21.

"The family is very grateful to the CSU Music Department for its continued support of the work and dedication of Robert Cavarra," said Barbara Cavarra, his wife. "The organ debut will bring together his music, students, colleagues and friends."

Cavarra drew the specifications for the Casavant organ following several years of planning, research and visiting fine organs of the United States and Europe. He selected the late Lawrence Phelps, tonal director and president of Casavant Frres of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, to construct what would become the first major mechanical-action organ at an American university.

The Casavant organ was built in the style of the Northern German organs of the 17th and 18th centuries, designed specifically for Room 203 of the Music Building at Colorado State before the University Center for the Arts was constructed. In 1968, Cavarra wrote that the organ "is certainly unsurpassed in quality by any organ in America." Anton Heiller, a world-renowned organist from Austria and one of Cavarra’s mentors, said the Casavant was among the 25 greatest organs of the world.

The now priceless organ has 2,096 pipes, a 56-note keyboard, a 32-note pedal board and 34 stops. In its new recital hall in the University Center for the Arts, the expansive Casavant sweeps the entire north wall, the tallest pipes reaching 19 feet. The organ’s move in 2008 was carried out by Parsons Pipe Organ Builders of Canandaigua, New York.

Ric Parsons, the company’s president, said the new hall where the organ now resides is "a splendid place for the Casavant. The visual appeal, the warm sound, the rich history – it’s like the room was built just for the organ."

To continue the tradition of her late husband’s commitment to the arts at CSU, Barbara Cavarra has arranged the Robert Cavarra Endowment fund to bring renowned organists to Colorado State to play and teach.

Tickets for the Feb. 20 and 22 concerts by CSU faculty member Joel Bacon are $10 for the public and $5 for Colorado State students and youth ages 6 to 17. Tickets are available from the Campus Box Office in the Lory Student Center, by phone at (970) 491-4849 or online at

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