Prof. leaves a legacy

Feb 112008

Robert Cavarra, a professor emeritus for the music department, passed away Friday after a series of health issues, leaving behind a long-standing legacy with the international organ player community. Cavarra had been associated with the university for 37 years.

Colleagues referred to Cavarra as a man with extraordinary, world-renowned talents on the organ and the building of the Casavant organ on campus, which he commissioned in 1968.

“One of the biggest cultural treasures that CSU possesses is that organ,” said Michael Thaut, chair of the Music, Theatre and Dance departments.

Joel Bacon, assistant professor of the Music, Theatre and Dance department, described Cavarra as something of a revolutionary with his work in commissioning the Casavant organ.

“Back in the 60s when he was helping design the organ for CSU, people told him he was crazy for trying to build a baroque style organ . but he proved them wrong,” Bacon said. “Basically every university wanted an organ like we had. It was one of the first large organs of its time at an American university.”

Cavarra also commissioned the Phelps organ at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where his memorial services will be held, and the Marcussen at the First Methodist Church in Fort Collins.

Bacon says he had a particularly harmonious connection with Cavarra, speaking of him with great regard.

“He was a wonderful colleague, a good friend and dedicated to his students and promoting the organ,” Bacon said. “He was a great mentor. This was my first teaching job and he was just so wonderfully supportive. He went to all my recitals and his students’ recitals.”

Bacon describes the last concert in which he played the Casavant organ, nearly a month ago, as a performance of special magnitude.

“It was really special for me to play in that final recital and have him be there,” Bacon said. “I was really glad he was able to hear it played in that final concert.”

The Casavant organ is currently in the moving process, its final destination being the Griffin Concert Hall.

A memorial service for Cavarra will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Friday.

Senior Reporter Kaeli West can be reached at

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