by Daniel Hathaway
As pipe organ projects go, the new Richards, Fowkes & Co. gallery organ at the Church of the Covenant in Cleveland’s University Circle is something quite special. Built in the late 17th century North German-Dutch style that coincided with a great flowering of organ composers beginning with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and continuing on through Dietrich Buxtehude, the instrument is the first church organ in Northeast Ohio to replicate the kind of instrument invented to support the psalm and chorale singing of a Protestant congregation of that era as well as the organ literature that surrounded and enhanced its worship.
The Newberry Gallery Organ will be formally dedicated this Sunday, May 12 in a 10 am service and 2 pm recital. “It’s the crown jewel of Cleveland”, exclaimed Oberlin organ professor and dedicatory recitalist James David Christie, who talked to us during a break from practicing earlier this week. “This organ is so beautiful — you have no idea!”
How did this project come about? The Covenant’s music director and organist Jonathan Moyer told us that soon after he arrived in Cleveland, a renovation project took quite a different turn. “Originally there was an Aeolian-Skinner antiphonal organ in the gallery that was much in need of repair or replacement. The granddaughter of the original donor, who was still alive at the time wanted to donate the funds. She actually gave us too much money.” [Read more…]