“The gifted young organist Christopher Houlihan performed Vierne’s six symphonies for solo organ…The symphonies are full of such anxious, often abrupt juxtapositions. Mr. Houlihan was attuned to these shifts in mood, bringing a sensitive touch to the misty Romance in the Fourth and carnivalesque brilliance to the twinkling Scherzo of the Second. He phrased with flexibility and clarity through the works’ knottiest chromatic wanderings. And in the jubilant, even maniacal finales—like that of the Sixth, bathed in B major brilliance—Mr. Houlihan’s playing had a glamorous sheen appropriate to Vierne’s music.”
(The New York Times 2012)
“A rising young American organist…displaying a virtuoso’s technical prowess, an architect’s grasp of structure and a torch singer’s ability to convey emotions….Songful expressivity…Dazzling performances. He captured the Ominous undertone of the Fourth’s opening prelude, as well as the surging dram of its manic conclusion. And his deft footwork on the pedals throughout the concerts prompted one listener to dub him “the Fred Astaire of the pipe organ.”…In Mr. Houlihan’s hands, the organ delivered plenty of firepower and juicy, well-blended chords, like a homogeneous string section in a fine symphony orchestra. His recitals have proved an excellent match between performer and composer [Vierne], worth hearing by anyone who enjoys virtuosic organ works. Indeed, his expressive music-making made me like Vierne’s organ symphonies better than before.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“Houlihan’s ‘Vierne 2012’ is a major surprise of the summer, a true revelation….He is an eloquent musician. His rhythmic sense is clear-cut American. His feet elegantly tap dance on the pedals. Everything he plays is sharply and smartly delineated. His tempos were on the satisfyingly quick side, yet so naturally that nothing felt rushed or unduly showy. In fact, more than four hours’ worth of punishingly gnomic organ writing proved in Houlihan’s hands ever graceful of shape and full of life….Houlihan revealed another, more ingratiating side to Vierne’s symphonies, that of the highly unconventional sonic and structural daring of Berlioz along with the uniquely French bizarreness of, say, Charles-valentine Alkan or even Erik Satie….Most [of the audience] listened to emotionally and musically challenging, unfamiliar pieces with riveted attention….Houlihan gave [the third symphony] a feisty grandeur…Houlihan’s most remarkable feat may have been to find a glimpse of luminosity in the desolate Fifth [symphony] that revealed great insights into the human condition….Concentrated and unsentimental, Houlihan ended the cycle with an unnervingly honest and direct performance, astonishing for so young a performer. The Houli fans can give themselves high fives. They’ve helped launch a major career.” (Los Angeles Times)
“The instrument was lavishly displayed by Christopher Houlihan, a young American organist of formidable skill and considerable flamboyance….Dispatching those notes with such authority and élan was a major accomplishment. Constantly, and deftly, shifting and nuancing sonorities…added to the amazement.” (The Dallas Morning News)
“Organist Christopher Houlihan, a brilliant young virtuoso…This current Vierne tour has brought universal praise from critics in every city where he has appeared. He already has a fanatical following of ‘Houli fans,’ much like a rock star. Some other organists sniff a little at all of this hoopla, but ‘Houli’ is bringing a lot of attention to an instrument that is badly in need of it. Organ concerts are routinely ignored and poorly attended. He packs ‘em in.” (TheatreJones.com, Gregory Sullivan Isaacs)
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In rehearsal with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
“Christopher Houlihan has traversed the trajectory of ‘Rising Star’ to ‘Risen Star’ in a remarkably brief period of time…. He combines elegance and grace with brilliance and bravado…. His outstanding interpretive and communicative skills make him an audience favorite.”
(The American Organist, 2012)
“YOUNG STAR ORGANIST ASTONISHES: Star power is possible, even in the world of organ performance.”
(The Birmingham News AL, 2011,
awarded 5 out of 5 stars)
“Once again the pipe organ emerges as ‘The King of Instruments,’ and Christopher Houlihan is its youngest and most promising interpreter in the realm…. the crowd was in a full roar of approval….Christopher has “IT” – that elusive something ‘which draws others with its magnetic force.’” (Huffington Post, 2012)
The young American organist Christopher Houlihan has been labeled “gifted” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Wall Street Journal), and ”one of the brightest stars in the new generation of American organists” (Cincinnati Enquirer).
He made his orchestral debut with the Hartford Symphony and recorded his first two CDs while still in college, prompting classmates to form the “Houli Fans,” a fan base that continues to grow on Facebook.
His “Vierne2012” tour attracted international attention and critical acclaim for performing the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne in marathon concerts in six major North American cities. The Los Angeles Times called his performance there “a major surprise of the summer, a true revelation.”
He has been a featured performer at four conventions of the American Guild of Organists and will be a featured performer at the Organ Historical Society national convention in 2014. He is widely acknowledged as one of the brightest stars in the new generation of American organists, and was booked to perform from coast to coast during his debut season under professional representation. He has performed professionally in 35 states and the District of Columbia as well as in three other countries. He is one of the very few organists in the world who earns his entire living from performing.
Christopher Houlihan is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut where he studied with John Rose, his organ teacher from the age of twelve. He earned his master’s degree at The Juilliard School in New York where he studied with the Grammy Award winning organist Paul Jacobs. He earned the “Prix de Perfectionnement” (equivalent to a university artist’s diploma in the US) from the French National Regional Conservatory in Versailles, and while in France served as assistant musician at the American Cathedral in Paris where he had the honor of performing for the then President and First Lady of the United States, Mr. And Mrs. George W. Bush.
During the 2013-2014 school year Christopher will serve an academic appointment as Artist in Residence at Trinity College in Connecticut in addition to his heavy performance schedule for the season.
“PICK OF THE WEEK: gifted young American organist” (Chicago Tribune)