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Organ festival puts the terror in Phantom of the Opera

By Shivaughn King, October 30 2014 —

Running since 2010, the Calgary Organ Festival is a rich celebration of the organ and its music. This year’s festival, hosted by the Mount Royal University Conservatory, runs until Nov. 2.

“We’ve got great concerts, we’ve got fun events for Halloween and we do have our church heritage in there,”  says Neil Cockburn, head of organ studies at the Mount Royal Conservatory and the organ festival’s artistic director. “It’s a big mixture of everything.”

The festival held Halloween-themed events for the first time last year. On Friday, Oct. 31, Knox United Church will host two Halloween events as part of the festival. The first is the Great Halloween Organ SpookTacular (GHOST) which starts at 7:30 p.m. and will feature music by local organists. GHOST is a family-friendly show featuring pipe-organ music and a variety of Halloween activities for kids.

“We’re encouraging people who might normally go trick-or-treating to come here instead,” Cockburn says.

GHOST is a free event and tickets aren’t required.

The second event is a screening of the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera at 9:00 p.m. The film will be scored with live organ music performed by concert organist David Baskeyfield.

The film is being presented in conjuction with the Calgary Society of Organists. Cockburn says interest in the movie screening has been high and has garnered a lot of support from the community and volunteers.

Cockburn views the Halloween portion of the festival as a way to share “enthusiasm for this wonderful instrument” with an audience who might not otherwise be exposed to it.

“When most people think of the pipe organ, they think of a church instrument, but we try to position the organ in a place where it’s also appealing to people who are not so churchy,” Cockburn says. “If you say to anyone, name me one instrument that you associate with Halloween, it’s probably going to be an organ.”

Tickets for The Phantom of the Opera are $15 for general admission and $10 for students.

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