More than 82 years after sounding its first chord, the Memorial Organ at the First United Methodist Church, 203 S. Second East, will be rededicated on Sunday, after undergoing extensive restoration during the past several months.
The Rev. Dale McArthur will preside at the dedication service, which will include a performance by Keith R. Chapman, an organist who has appeared regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra.He will perform several numbers, including "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," "Prelude and Fugue in C-Major," and "The Royal Fireworks Music."
First installed in November 1906, the organ cost $5,000 and had to be pumped from behind. Since the original installation, the instrument has undergone extensive repairs and refurbishing several times. In 1930, chimes were added, and in 1949, when the church was remodeled, the organ pipes were painted solid gold. Further refurbishing took place over the years, and major repairs were completed in 1970.
The restoration effort combines the historic grandeur of the old pipe organ with new computer-age technology, and the electronic portion of the organ is now the same specification as the Rodgers Organ newly installed in Carnegie Hall. Most improvements are behind the scenes, but the new console, the new facade and the new antiphonal or "echo" organ in the balcony are visible changes in the new installation.
The instrument is now capable of producing sounds including human choir voices, strings, handbells and over 600 other digitally sampled voices.
Yet digital technology wasn't the only addition.
After hearing of the restoration project, John Mackay, owner of Deseret Mortuary, donated several pipes from an organ at his business that had been damaged by water. The best of those have been incorporated into the refurbished organ.