The magnificent Casavant Opus 3095 pipe organ at Church of the Holy Trinity which will be used in the June 5th Organix presentation of organist Melanie Barney and violist Tina Cayouette. Photo courtesy of Organix.

Unique organ festival comes to an end

  • June 1, 2013

TORONTO - Organix, the only festival of its kind in Toronto with its focus on the pipe organ, will cease to exist in its current form once the closing Gala Performance wraps up on June 7.

For the past eight years, Gordon Mansell, founder of the Organix festival, has brought some of the most internationally celebrated performers of the instrument to perform on some of the city’s most prized pipe organs. But the economics of doing so are proving to be a hurdle too large to overcome.

“It is too difficult to sustain an organ festival each year as the numbers of people attending are not enough to support the expenses, nor enough for corporate sponsorships to consider as a viable festival for their brand,” said Mansell, who notes that with the associated costs of hosting international talent, the average ticket would have to skyrocket to approximately $100 a seat in order to maintain a profit.

“My intention of building greater awareness of the organ and the vast repertoire written for it has not diminished. The only thing that is changing is how this package will be delivered to audiences.”

That means Organix will continue to present concerts throughout the year rather than running a festival over a short timeframe, said Mansell.

Despite this, the past season of Organix brought a variety of performers to Toronto, among those UK virtuoso Jane Parker Smith, the organ-meets-vaudeville duo of Organized Crime and 17-year-old prodigy Karen Christianson.

“I think that with the level of talent that has been presented in Organix 13 and will be presented in the remaining concerts from each of these young performers, it is a clear indication that the organ as a viable performance instrument is very much one that young musicians are beginning to appreciate and become more aware of,” said Mansell.

This year, the closing Gala Performance will feature the Wong Chen Duo at St. Clement’s Anglican Church.

Going forward, Mansell hopes that the public’s perception of the instrument can be broadened and become more open to a general appreciation more on the European level. The answer to this may lie in the development of young talent, whose youthful take on an often staid genre may influence listeners in a positive manner.

Mansell, who himself recently celebrated his 45th anniversary as an organist, feels the future of the organ is reliant on the Church and the public to maintain enthusiasm.

For information on the Organix 13 festival visit

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