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The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Prominent Organist to Perform in New “Virtuoso Performance Series”

Few organs—anywhere—have such a storied history, are as well-known or highly regarded as the Tabernacle Organ on historic Temple Square in Salt Lake City. This world-renowned, iconic pipe organ with five manuals (keyboards) and 206 ranks of organ pipes is among the world’s largest instruments—and one of the most heralded. Its famous golden pipes, made of wood staves fashioned from Utah timber and visible on the front facade, still add to the sound of the famous instrument even today.

To showcase the organ and world-renowned organists, a new “Virtuoso Performance Series” begins Friday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle. Dr. James Higdon, much admired organist from the University of Kansas, headlines the inaugural event.

Dr. James Higdon

Dr. Higdon is recognized in music circles as a remarkable musician and teacher. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in organ from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree from Northwestern University, and doctor of musical arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. That was just the beginning. He has studied with Edmund Ladouceur, Robert Kendall, Karel Paukert, David Craighead, Catharine Crozier and in France with Marie-Claire Alain. Six times he has played the renowned organ at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and when the structure was burning, he and his students, horrified, watched the devastation on television. The organ survived. He has also performed at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, and Chartres Cathedral in Paris and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He has given recitals at four regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and concerts and master classes in Germany, Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic.

He is a prolific recording artist and beloved teacher. The University of Kansas has applauded his work with students presenting him with a William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. He was the first University of Kansas professor from the arts to receive the prestigious award.

This inaugural concert in the “Virtuoso Performance Series” in the Tabernacle on Temple Square is open to the public at no charge. Plans for the series include concerts about once each quarter during the year. 

The next performance in the series is set for August 26 at 7:30 p.m., and will feature Dr. Gabriele Terrone, organist at Salt Lake’s Cathedral of the Madeleine.

Since 1901 organists have showcased the remarkable Tabernacle organ in free noon recitals. What began as twice a week free event soon became a daily program and that tradition continues today.

The organ is also featured in a series, Piping Up: Organ Concerts at Temple Square, streamed every Wednesday on The Tabernacle Choir’s YouTube channel and website and also on Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.