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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “From small town Calais…”

October 10, 2012

Dear Michael,

My wife and I heard on the car radio an edition of Pipe Dreams which featured the organ in First Congregational Church of Calais, Maine. We might have heard the tail end of the show, so possibly the entire program was not devoted to this organ, but both she and I were amazed (happily, I might add) that the show would record an organ in such a tiny town (pop 4,200). We vacation there and worshiped at the church on September 23, but no one in the church, not even the pastor, knew anything about Pipe Dreams. I thought we heard the show about a year and a half ago, but my wife claims it was probably in the last 10 months.

What I would like to know is when the recording was made? Many thanks for your help.

Tom Collins

Dear Tom,

Your wife is correct...what you heard was broadcast within the past 10 months. Indeed, the program aired only recently during the week of August 6, 2012.

I confess that when people contact me with questions about a broadcast from 'we're not quite sure when', my head spins. Fortunately, the likelihood of my having a recording from Calais from a variety of sources was small, and I was able quickly to home in on a CD set issued by the Organ Historical Society, recorded during one of their annual conventions (held in Maine in 1992...I attended!).

The organ at 1st Congregational Calais is featured on CD#4 in this 4-disc set...which features a total of 39 historic instruments from Alfred to Westbrook...definitely an interesting collection.

By all means spread the word about PIPEDREAMS to the folks in Calais. People at the church can listen online to the program in which their instrument was featured. Just use the web link above…it will remain accessible indefinitely. And PIPEDREAMS airs on Maine Public Broadcasting (view full week) on Monday nights at 9PM (FM 89.7), but only one hour airs on MPB, so the Calais organ would not have been heard locally!

The OHS makes a point during its conventions of highlighting instruments of historic interest, and the full work of the Society is in building awareness of the historic organ heritage we have here in the USA…one that is constantly threatened by economics, changing worship styles, and church closings.

I would encourage you to become a member! The next national convention (July 2013) will be in Vermont.

Thanks for writing, and for listening!




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