Photo by Michael Pereckas

This weekend Saginaw will be bustling with events of all kinds: literary, musical, horticultural. If you've ever seen the movie or theatrical show Phantom of the Opera and wondered what it's like to get a close look at and listen to a pipe organ, now is your chance, thanks to events sponsored by the Organ Historical Society. 

Friday, May 20th

Nicholas Schmelter, Director of Music Ministries at First Congregational Church, 403 South Jefferson St., Saginaw, will perform a free organ recital at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, May 20, 2011. In celebration of Eastertide, the program will include a complete performance of André Fleury’s contemporary composition 6 Chants de Pâques.

The thirty-minute work is seldom heard in its entirety and will be performed on the church’s three-manual, seventy rank organ built by the Ernest M. Skinner Company of Boston 1930 and enlarged by John F. Shawhan (1965) and Scott Wheeler (1975). This instrument contains historic pipes from Skinner Op. 751 and other additions by Casavant Frères Ltée Op. 2809, and is in urgent need of restoration. The chapel houses an unaltered two-manual, nine rank pipe organ, built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. (Opus 1327).

The lunch-hour recital is open to the public; introductory tours of the organ will follow the program. A free-will offering will be taken after the recital to support the overhaul of the historic sanctuary pipe organ, which is in need of repair.

Saturday, May 21st

The Michigan Chapter of the Organ Historical Society will visit First Congregational Church Saturday, May 21, at 10:00 a.m., with the purpose of touring the congregation’s two historic pipe organs. Members of the public are invited to take part in this open house event.

The Organ Historical Society is an international organization that seeks members from all levels of interest in the organ. The Society promotes a widespread musical and historical interest in American organ building through collection, preservation, and publication of historical information, and through recordings and public concerts. The Organ Historical Society is dedicated to documenting and preserving historic pipe organs and to raising public awareness and appreciation of America's organ heritage.

First Congregational Church is an acoustically superb building, which dates to 1868, and is located on the corner of Jefferson and Hayden in downtown Saginaw. The congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and has recognized excellence in musical outreach and community service since the 1800s. The Rev. Dr. Todd S. Farley, PhD, is the congregation’s Senior Minister. If you would like more information, please contact Nicholas Schmelter at the church office center, (989) 754-6565.