Classical organist and improvisational artist Chaz Bowers will visit Key West for an Impromptu Classical Concert performance at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (401 Duval St.). The concert is the first of the 2019 Impromptu Classical Concerts season, and forms part of the rededication of the magnificent St. Paul’s Church organ after 30 years of additions and renovations.
Thanks to a special grant from The Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, the audience will be able to better view the complexities of today’s performance by way of closed-circuit television so that we can observe more closely the organist’s dexterity in the manipulation of keyboards, stops and pedals.
A charismatic performer, Bowers has delighted audiences from his native western Pennsylvania to the shores of Bermuda with masterful performances of pieces from the canon of great organ literature. Drawing on his own experience as a church organist and the rich traditions of church music, Bowers presents programs designed to inspire.
In addition to his many recitals, including St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh and Wesley United Methodist Church in Hamilton, Bermuda, Bowers has dedicated numerous organs in the western Pennsylvania region. He also frequently appears as a guest organist with some of Pittsburgh’s premier choral ensembles, most recently performing Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” with “Voces Solis,” an all-professional choir, and Maurice Duruflé’s “Requiem, Opus 9,” with the St. Vincent Camerata and Academy Chamber Orchestra.
Bowers is also a respected composer of sacred music; his setting of “O Breathe on Me, O Breath of God,” was released by GIA Publications in early 2017. Since 2014, Bowers has served as director of music and principal organist at St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon, Pa. He is also coordinator of sacred music and university organist at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa. Prior to his appointment to St. Bernard’s, he served for five years as director of music at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Irwin and assistant organist at Greensburg’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
Bowers holds his master’s degree from Duquesne University, studying organ and improvisation with Dr. Ann Labounsky. His undergraduate studies were completed at Seton Hill University, where he studied organ and service playing with Edgar Highberger and organ improvisation with J. Christopher Pardini.
As part of a 2013 mini study-abroad trip with the organ studio of Duquesne University, he had the opportunity to perform on many of the great organs of Paris at Notre Dame Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint Clotilde, the Church of Saint Sulpice, the Madeleine Church and others.
At his Key West concert, Bowers will perform “Intrada for Organ,” by Grayston Ives; “Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major Op. 65, No. 6,” by Johann Sebastian Bach; “Nimrod” from “Enigma Variations,” by Edward Elgar; “Organ Sonata No. 6 in D Minor, Op. 65, No. 6,” by Felix Mendelssohn; and “Recessional Opus 96, No. 4,” by William Mathias. Following a short intermission, Bowers will conclude his program with “Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 42,” by Alexandre Guilmant; “The Peace May Be Exchanged,” by Dan Locklair; an improvisation he composed himself; and “Carillon de Westminster,” by Louis Vierne.
The next concert of the season will be Canadian violinist Timothy Chooi on Jan. 27. Tickets for the concert cost $20 and are available at www.keystix.com or at the door on the afternoon of the event. Cash, checks or credit/debit cards accepted. Students will be admitted free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.keywestimpromptu.org. ¦