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Norwalk grad to show off musical versatilty in organ recital

Cary Ashby • May 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Before he takes his talents to Philadelphia, Chase Castle will perform an organ recital in Norwalk. 

The recital will feature a selection of works by German composer Max Reger, J.S. Bach, Louis Vierne, who is known for being the organist at the Notre Dame cathedral for about 40 years, Johannes Brahms and others. The free concert starts at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 243 Benedict Ave.

“The program complements itself in a way where I can move through a vast array of styles — historical styles and organ styles and technical styles,” said Castle, the son of Chris and Julie.

“Norwalk has been a wonderful place and it’s been very supportive of me and my music. I am really grateful of so many of the people who have nurtured that growth, so yeah, this (recital) is kinda in its own right a last hurrah. It’s my last service I will be playing at St. Peter here and it’s my last week with my students.”

Castle’s recital will start with a composition by Reger.

“It’s this big, romantic, almost Wagner-ian sound — you know, huge, thick chords,” said the organist, who next will perform “light, beautiful, pastoral” music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. “Then we go into Bach, which is that stereotypical contrapuntal organ sound.”

Castle, 21, has been performing on the organ at St. Peter since he was 16 years old.

“I played their 8 a.m. service when I was in high school. When I went to Baldwin Wallace University, I started playing (at) the Saturday night service,” said the 2015 Norwalk High School graduate.

Castle’s undergraduate degree from Baldwin Wallace is a double major in organ performance and music history.

For Sunday’s recital, he will perform on a relatively new organ.

“I’m going to be playing the Allen instrument at St. Peter Lutheran Church, which was just purchased a few years ago, so it’s relatively new,” Castle said.

The digital organ has a box which allows the performer to choose a variety of “instruments” to “voice” a variety of music. It can mimic anything from flutes to French horns to trumpets, tubas and oboes.

“The organ is a symphonic instrument. Part of my job as an organist — especially as a concert organist — is to show off what this instrument can do,” Castle said.

“I’ve been so fortunate here in Norwalk to be able to be involved in this church music circuit and to be also involved in piano lessons and piano pedagogy through Castle Music, which closed a few years ago.” 

His uncle Jamie owned and operated Castle Music.

Currently, Castle has five students, ranging in age from 4 years old to 18.

“It’s interesting because when I started teaching at Castle Music, I had 30 students a week. … Now I’m teaching through my home,” he said. “The youngest student I ever taught was 3 years old and the oldest student I taught was 82 years old.

“Age, you know, hardly ever plays a role; it really doesn’t. What matters most is how to captivate attention and how to keep that attention and that re-tention of information I’m giving.”

When Castle was working at a church in Euclid, he started giving lessons only once a week. He has been the music/choir director and organist at the Church of the Epiphany, an Episcopal parish, for four years. Castle also accompanies the choir on piano.

His next step is furthering his education. Castle will pursue his doctorate in musicology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“It’s a five-year Ph.D. program,” he said. “Musicology is the study of music history and music theory. My emphasis will be historical musicology, so my plan for my dissertation is to be researching American evangelical hymnody in the 19th century.

“The Ph.D. program at Penn actually accepts undergrads and you can get your master’s (degree) along the way, which is nice. So I will get my master’s (in) about three years.”

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