posted March 5, 2010

Donia Organ Recital to Feature Christopher Houlihan on March 16

Hope College will present the Donia Organ Recital, "An American Organist Abroad: My Year in France," featuring Christopher Houlihan, on Tuesday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The program will open with Leo Sowerby's "Toccata," followed by two Johann Sebastian Bach pieces:  "Trio Sonata in C Major," and "Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor."  The second half of the program will include "Adagio and Allegro in F Minor," by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and three Louis Vierne pieces:  "Scherzo," from Symphony No.2 opus 20; "Romance," from Symphony No. 3 opus 32; and "Toccata," from Fantasy Pieces opus 53 no. 6.

Houlihan is one of the brightest stars in the new generation of American organists and was booked to perform from coast to coast during his debut season under professional representation.

During his senior year of college, he made his orchestral debut with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, sharing the soloist spotlight with violinist Joshua Bell. The critic for "The Hartford Courant" wrote that Houlihan has "the charisma and energy of a major soloist" and "strong international potential."

During a full year of studies in France, he also served as assistant musician at the American Cathedral in Paris. On one particular Sunday during which he was scheduled both to play the organ and conduct both choirs for the services, the cathedral received a few hours' advance notice that President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush would attend. The dean of the cathedral later wrote that he considered Houlihan "one of the great heroes" of that challenging morning.

Houlihan is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut where he studied with John Rose, his organ teacher from the age of 12.  While at TrinityCollege, he won the Helen Loveland Morris Prize in Music and graduated with honors. He served for a year as assistant organist at the Cathedral of St. Joseph (Roman Catholic) and another year in the same role at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), both in Hartford. For three years he was assistant organist at the Trinity College Chapel.

Houlihan is currently a graduate student of Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School in New York. He was awarded two of the school's major scholarships, The Irene Diamond Graduate Fellowship, and The Chairman's Grant, which was awarded by the institution's president to "support a small number of students who have demonstrated exceptional potential for success at Juilliard."

The recital at Hope was made possible through the generous support of the college's Tom Donia Memorial Organ Fund. The fund was created in 1990 by family and friends of Tom Donia, a 1971 Hope graduate who died in 1990. The director of communications for the American Red Cross, Donia had a life-long interest in music.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.