November 10, 2015
How long it's been! February 28, 2001, the Nisqually Earthquake seriously damaged Plymouth's aging Schlicker organ. Now, fourteen years later, our newly renovated Sanctuary is home to – not just a replacement – the almost-unbelievable gift of a Fisk tracker organ.
Tracker action gives the organist a direct mechanical connection to each pipe, rather than merely through electrical switches. I think of it like the difference between listening to a performance by a gifted artist and hearing a player piano – only on a much grander scale.
This Sunday, November 15, at 2 pm and 5 pm, our own Douglas Cleveland will show off the wonderful sounds of this “French romantic” tracker organ in two performances of the inaugural organ concert. You won't want to miss it.
Like many other tourists in Europe, Wayne and I were always drawn to the beauty of old churches. At several, the tour guide proudly introduced mechanical organs from the Eighteenth Century or earlier, organs that still produce magnificent music. The daily noon concerts at Passau's St. Stephan’s Cathedral are so popular that one must arrive early to find seats. Plymouth, the downtown church in the largest city of our UCC Conference, is fortunate to be able to share this instrument of great inspiration that is unaffordable to many congregations.
Last fall, I attended my 65th class reunion at Stanford University. I excitedly climbed to a tiny second organ loft in Memorial Church to watch and hear the organist play Stanford's thirty-one-year-old Fisk organ. My fascination with its story was two-fold: because of Plymouth's anticipation of our very own Fisk and Charles Fisk’s connection with Stanford. He came to Stanford to seek a doctorate in physics in 1950, the year after I received a bachelor's degree in physics there. Charmed by organ music in that church, Fisk resolved to abandon physics and learn to make organs the old-fashioned way. Stanford's Fisk organ was the company's 89th product. The organ was being installed when he passed away in December, 1983. For me, he will be alive again this Sunday, as Plymouth dedicates Fisk's Opus 140. – Ann Sandstrom