St. Olaf College | News

Minnesota Public Radio highlights PipeScreams, St. Olaf’s spooky celebration of Halloween and organ music

St. Olaf’s annual musical celebration of Halloween — featuring the spooky sounds of the college’s talented student and faculty members of the Organ Department — was highlighted in a recent Minnesota Public Radio feature.

PipeScreams, which will be held this year on October 30, provides an opportunity for organ students (and faculty and other assorted ghosts) to dress up in costume and perform music that sounds particularly spooky pouring out of the pipes of the Holtkamp Organ in Booooo (Boe) Memorial Chapel. Performances this year will include Mars from Gustav Holst’s The Planets and an organ duet of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

PipeScreams 2021

St. Olaf College Artist in Residence Catherine Rodland told MPR that the concert follows in a wider tradition of organ concerts around Halloween, because people often associate the instrument with horror films and scary music.

The story notes that St. Olaf is home to one of the most renowned and largest undergraduate organ music programs in the U.S. The college is unusual in that it has a recital hall dedicated specifically for organ teaching, rehearsals, and recitals.

“One of the most wonderful things about this concert is that it features all the students — beginners studying the organ as a secondary instrument, and the most accomplished majors altogether,” Rodland told MPR. “And the professors perform with the students, which is fun for all of us.”

PipeScreams, which is open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. on October 30 at Boe Memorial Chapel and streamed live. In addition, the musicians were invited this year to perform at Red Wing’s Sheldon Theater on October 29.