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Doylestown organist performs “L’Orgue Mystique”

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The complete 253-movement “L’Orgue Mystique” is being performed by Doylestown resident Richard Spotts, in collaboration with The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, throughout the season of Lent at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill.

The recital series will be held in 17 performances: Monday through Wednesday throughout Lent (Monday, March 2 through Tuesday, April 7) at 7:30 p.m. The church is at 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave.

Written by French composer Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), a seminal musical influence of the 20th century, the profoundly moving 15-hour organ recital series is “the culmination of over a decade of work,” said Spotts, a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J.

Spotts said he set out to perform and educate the public of this critical work, having given more than 100 recitals at cathedrals, universities and parishes throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, plans are underway for the publication of his book on the subject in celebration of Tournemire’s sesquicentennial this year.

While Tournemire is not widely known to the larger public today, his work, particularly in the realm of sacred music, remains highly influential, Spotts explained. He was a student of the famed César Franck and Charles Marie Widor and was organist of the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris from 1898 until his death in 1939.

“Known as an improviser extraordinaire, he was a prolific composer who produced compositions of incredible expressiveness and profundity. His greatest work —the magnum opus “L’Orgue Mystique” — transformed the sound of the organ world, hearkening to the past with its use of Gregorian chant and yet welcoming it into modernity with its innovative mystical sonorities,” Spotts said.

Spotts has performed at many of the country’s most famous churches, including:

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colo.;

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York, N.Y.; The Cathedral Church of Saint James, Toronto, Ontario; The Cathedral Church of Saint Philip, Atlanta, Ga.;

Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, Ind.; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, Calif.; Heinz Chapel, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Madonna Della Strada Chapel, Loyola University, Chicago, Ill.; Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, N.J.;

Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.; Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, N.Y.; Trinity Church Copley Square, Boston, Mass.; Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Miami, Fla.; and Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.

More information on the recital series can be found at stpaulschestnuthill.org.


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