When Adam Ward learned there might be a pipe organ available for Providence United Methodist, he had a few questions.First: Where is it?The location, colleague Phil Parkey told him, could not be disclosed. But he could tell him the instruments Opus number, which is similar to a serial number.Ward, director of music at Providence United Methodist Church, quickly looked up the Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1472.The organ had been installed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for almost 40 years. It was, as Ward describes it, an American treasure. Providence had been considering a new organ for 10 years. The project had been put on the backburner during the recession in 2008, but news of the Opus 1472s availability and several other interested buyers mobilized the church.Within a month, a church committee had raised enough to secure the organ. The church now has raised almost $1.5 million for the organs move to Charlotte and its installation.Providence United Methodist was our first choice (for the organ), and it worked out and fell into place, said Parkey, president and tonal director of Parkey OrganBuilders, which is installing the organ at the church.Providence United Methodist has had a pipe organ since the late 1960s, when Cornel Zimmer Organ Builders founded by a German family installed the first Zimmer organ in the United States in the Providence United Methodist Church sanctuary.While the Zimmer is a quality instrument, Ward said, it is not the right organ for PUMC.It was too small, in every way, for what we do, Ward said.As the church grew, the organ wasnt commanding enough to lead congregational singing.The Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1472, known as the Rolls-Royce of organs, had similar problems at the Kennedy Center, where it was much too small for the space.Because we had a discrepancy of scale (at the Kennedy Center), that square peg in a round hole there has become a square peg in a square hole at Providence, so to speak, Parkey said.Providences Zimmer organ was removed in February, and its parts will be used in organs in other places.In early June, more than 100 staff and church members gathered to help carry pipes from the Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1472 now called the Robinson Organ into the church.The workers formed a bucket line from the church door to the organ, passing pipes hand to hand through a back hallway and up a stairwell.It was a unifying thing for everyone in the church who came, and it was truly a thrilling experience, Ward said. People were elated to be part of it.The first pipe was lugged by Bob Ivey, Providences former organist, who remains active in the church. I think its wonderful weve been able to obtain this instrument, Ivey said. (Aeolian-Skinners) are known for their lively, beautiful, warm sounds.Installation of the instrument, which Parkey OrganBuilders is renovating to fit the churchs space, began in early spring. The last song played on the Zimmer was performed in February.The new organ is composed of more than 3,400 pipes, and parts of the church walls had to be removed to install them.The installation also has required updating the churchs lighting. The heating and air conditioning system also had to be upgraded the systems are key to maintaining the correct temperature and humidity levels for the pipe organ.The organ will be playable in July, and the church will dedicate it in early September with guest musician Alan Morrison, professor of organ at the Curtis Institute.During the organ transition, Ward has been leading Sunday music on the piano. Needless to say, he is itching to play the new instrument. You have no idea, he said.Leading a congregation and choir the size of this one, it is very hard to lead from the piano, he said.The church draws about 600 between two services on Sundays.The new organ will have wide sonic palate, ranging from sounds as quiet as a whisper to roaring tones. In the midst of the new organ installation, the church has hired organ scholar Samantha Koch, a Myers Park High School alumna, to join its music ministry staff. While the organs primary purpose will be to lead Sunday worship music, the church also will use it to reach out to the community. People will be drawn to the church because of the instrument, Ward said. The outreach it will allow us to do with concerts cannot be overlooked.
Friday, Jun. 21, 2013
Charlotte church obtains 'famous' Kennedy Center organ
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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