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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

1931 E.M. Skinner organ
1931 E.M. Skinner organ in Severence Hall, Cleveland, OH

Severance Skinner, Saved by Schantz

Wake up and smell the coffee. The pipe organ is making a comeback in some American concert halls, as capacity audiences at Cleveland’s Severance Hall know full well. Think about it - when was the last time 2,000-plus people paid top dollar for tickets to a solo organ concert? This week’s Pipedreams program shares the Ohio celebration with selections from inaugural-series recitals by Thomas Murray, Gillian Weir, and Thomas Trotter.

built in 1931 by the famous Ernest M. Skinner of Boston, had been unheard and long forgotten in an inaccessible above-stage chamber. For the past seven decades it had been akin to a “hidden treasure.” Now the Norton Memorial Organ has taken the place of pride immediately behind the orchestra, the result of an extensive auditorium renovation. In virtually every detail, the organ has been restored by the Schantz Company of Orrville, Ohio with its original voice intact. Enjoy the exquisite period colors and the impressive power of “The Severance Skinner, Saved by Schantz” this week on Pipedreams.

Program Broadcast dates:

  • June 4, 2001

Links and Resources:

  • slideshow Slideshow of Michael Barone and Friends at the Organ Gala Celebration for the Norton Memorial Organ at Severance Hall in January, 2001

Built in 1931 by the famed E.M. Skinner Company of Boston, Opus 816, for the then-new Severance Hall, the Norton Memorial Organ languished unfortunately in an acoustically unsatisfactory ceiling chamber. After the installation of an orchestra shell onstage in 1959, it was able to be heard only with the help of amplification, and since 1976 had not been played at all. A recent major reconstitution of the Severance Hall stage area allowed for the liberation of the Norton Memorial Organ and its relocation and restoration by the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, OH. In addition to the recital repertoire, host Michael Barone and Schantz tonal director Jeffrey Dexter will explore the Skinner’s imtimate delights.

Music played in the program

FRANZ LISZT: Prelude & Fugue on B-A-C-H –Thomas Trotter; recorded January 6, 2001

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS: Fantasy in D-flat, Opus 101. EDVARD GRIEG (transcribed by Edwin H. Lemare): Peer Gynt Suite Number 1: Morning; Anitra’s Dance; In the Hall of the Mountain KingThomas Murray; recorded March 11, 2001

OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Joy and Clarity of the Glorious Bodies, from Les corps glorieux. OLIVIER MESSIAEN: The Hidden God, from Book of the Holy Sacrament. OLIVIER MESSIAEN: The Angels, and God Among Us, from La Nativité –Dame Gillian Weir; recorded February 18, 2001