Paul Kosower no doubt has many reasons why he enjoys playing the pipe organ, but one surely is its expansive capabilities.
“The organ is like no other instrument because it’s an orchestra at your disposal,” he said. “You’re in control of it, and you use your musical interpretation and you use your feeling for the sounds you want to create on it.”
Kosower retired in 2008 as a professor of organ and cello at UW-Eau Claire. He returned to the university a couple of years ago to teach organ part time, and he has never stopped playing either the cello or organ.
His next organ recital will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Spooner High School auditorium.
For the concert in Spooner, Kosower will be performing religious and secular music from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Among the selections are a Bach major prelude and fugue, “Amazing Grace,” “Morning Has Broken,” variations on “America” and “Coronation March” by Giacomo Meyerbeer.
In coming back to teach at UW-Eau Claire, Kosower hopes to ensure UW-Eau Claire’s renovated 46-rank Aeolian Skinner pipe organ continues to be used. The instrument is in Gantner Concert Hall of Haas Fine Arts Center. Kosower spoke while seated at the organ on the Gantner stage, occasionally playing to elaborate on points about music or the instrument.
Currently, Kosower works with seven students, and he said the music from those sessions as well as the time he spends practicing on the instrument has drawn attention from music and theater arts department staff members.
“You have an instrument this good, and it’s a shame to not use it,” he said, noting that some universities have gotten rid of their pipe organs.
Kosower has performed more than 1,000 concerts throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe. He has soloed with symphony orchestras on organ and cello, including the Milwaukee Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. His concerts have been broadcast many times by Wisconsin Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio and other broadcast outlets in the U.S.
Kosower said he’s impressed with how the Spooner pipe organ sounds.
“They did what they could with four ranks of pipes and made it more like ... maybe 15 ranks would sound or something,” he said. “It’s very amazing.”