Please do post details of concerts, courses and other events into the Calendar
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DTPITTSFIELD -- For her encore presentation at the First Methodist Church on Sunday, organist Monica Czausz performed an unpublished piece that included elements of the traditional New Orleans spiritual, "When The Saints Go Marching In."As she neared the climax of the piece, Czausz leaned back, put her hands on the bench and played most of the rest of the song with her feet on the organ's pedalboard.Following the performance, a visitor asked if she was showing off."A little bit," Czausz said with a laugh.She has probably earned bragging rights. Czausz, 17, is a senior at Chicopee High School and is one of the leading pipe organ players of her generation in the country. In January, she won the Oklahoma City High School Organ Competition, a national event attracting performers from all over the country.Czausz is one of the best, if not the best, pipe organ player in her age group in the country. On Sunday, she performed for about 90 minutes before an audience of roughly 75 people at the First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street. The event was sponsored by the American Guild of Organists.Czausz conceded that she plays an instrument of which few people her age are even aware, let alone listen to. She played the piano as a young girl, then tried the clarinet -- neither of which particularly interested her.But when she was in eighth grade, she attended a musical camp which focused on pipe organplaying."I fell in love with it instantly," she said.Czausz said she was not sure exactly what drew her to the instrument."Some people say it's the feeling of power you have when you play it," she said. "You can make the sound so deep and loud. I don't think that's it for me. I think it's the sense of variety you have when you play it. With a pipe organ, you literally have a whole orchestra. You can create a variety of sounds."Another aspect of the instrument "is that it's such a challenge," she said. "You need a tremendous amount of concentration to play it. But in the end, how does any musician find their instrument? I think it found me.""She is a very talented performer," said Joy Fawcett, the musical director of the First United Methodist Church of Czausz. "And she's not just a musician. She's an excellent student as well."Czausz is ranked first in her class of about 300 at Chicopee High School. She has a number of post-high school options, and she is presently pondering them. She is leaning toward a musical school for further training in the organ.She is primarily a classical music fan, although she enjoys virtually all kinds of music. And, admittedly, Czausz is fairly sure that it will be difficult to make a living playing the pipe organ."But I'll be playing it the rest of my life, I'm sure of that."