Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble to Forge 'French Connections' in Concert

The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, which has been commissioning a whirlwind of new compositions and arrangements for their unusual instrumentation, will give the Chicago premiere of an organ and brass arrangement of late-Romantic French composer Félix-Alexandre Guilmant's Symphony No. 1, Op. 42, for organ and orchestra at their April concerts. Arranger is New England-based composer Craig Garner.

The ensemble will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard St., Chicago; and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at St. John Cantius Church, 825 N. Carpenter Street, Chicago. Tickets, which are $20 for adult general admission and $10 for students, are available at

The concert program,"French Connections: Music of Guilmant, Ravel, and Widor," includes Garner's organ and brass arrangement of Maurice Ravel's impressionistic "Pavane pour une infante défunte"; Charles-Marie Widor's "Salvum fac populum tuum" (Save our people), Op. 84, for brass, drum, and organ; and French Baroque composer-organist Louis Marchand's "Grand Dialogue in C" for brass and organ. Concertgoers will also hear Carlyle Sharpe's "Prelude, Elegy, and Scherzo," a Chicago Gargoyle commission that received its world-premiere recording on the Gargoyle's critically acclaimed debut CD, "Flourishes, Tales and Symphonies," released in December on the MSR Classics label. The program's final piece will be Michael Burkhardt's organ and brass arrangement of the hymn "You Call Us, Lord, to Be," based on a Welsh folk tune.

Ensemble artists will include trumpet players Lev Garbar and Andrew Hunter, horn player Renée Vogen, trombonists Ian Fitzwater and Karen Mari, tuba player Phil Bessette, and percussionists Joe Beribak and Michael Schraft. Organist will be Phillip Kloeckner, a lecturer in music at the University of Chicago and associate university organist at Rockefeller Chapel.

The April 10 performance will be the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble's Chicago concert debut, strange as that sounds.

The former Chicago Gargoyle Brass Ensemble was founded in 1992 as a faculty and student group at the University of Chicago. It took its name from the fanciful stone figures atop theuniversity's Gothic buildings. The ensemble put itself on a professional footing in 2006, the same year itadded organ to the mix and changed its name to reflect its new makeup. Since then, it has performed atsuburban Chicago churches, venues in neighboring states, and music-industry conferences, but neverat a public concert within the city limits.

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