Campbellsville University dedicates Pomplitz organ at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church
The Pomplitz organ was rebuilt by Brad Rule and the fascade is in the process of being painted by Luisa Martini, a recent graduate student. (Campbellsville University Photo by Drew Tucker)
By Drew Tucker, communications assistant
The sounds of old were played to a congregation on Sept. 17 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church by an 1875 Pomplitz organ, which was dedicated by Campbellsville University.
"Thank you for housing this beautiful organ," Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music at CU, said.
The organ was donated to CU by Dr. Lloyd and Doris Vogt Farrar and was restored by Brad Rule of B. Rule & Company.
"We were always concerned that the acoustics were not ideal in this building until Brad Rule came," Doug Tucker, OLPH music director, said. "As soon as we heard it - the first sound, he said, 'This is the perfect building for this organ. It was meant to be.'"
Tucker said it took about a year for Rule to restore the organ and another few weeks building the case and assembling the pieces.
"We are indeed grateful and honored to be chosen to house this magnificent organ - a very rare and unique organ," he said.
Benji Kelly, vice president for development at CU, said the project had been going on for about two years. "I had a wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. [Wesley] Roberts and the donors, the Farrar's, on this organ," he said.
Kelly said when Farrar first spoke with him, Farrar said he would love to be able to donate the organ to Campbellsville University, and while he noticed that CU was a smaller university, he offered support to help restore it.
"We greatly appreciate what the Farrar's have done for Campbellsville University," Kelly said.
Kelly read a Litany of Dedication, where the congregation responded with, "We dedicate this organ."
Afterward, he prayed, "Our heavenly Father, we pause at this time to give glory and honor to your name. We thank you for the hands of your servants that constructed this organ many, many years ago. But not only that, but for those servants who have restored this organ to what it is today. We thank you for the Farrar's and their willingness to help see this project through.
"Their kind spirit and generosity to help make this organ a great piece for the university made possible for this congregation. Father, we pray for our students that will be using this organ for many years to come. We pray for this church and their congregation and their pastor, and Lord, I pray that you bless them. We pray for Campbellsville University and pray for your help for students to find their calling. Today, we dedicate this organ to your service, in your Son's name, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."
Dr. Wesley Roberts, professor of music at CU, gave some history on the organ.
"Because this organ predates the climb of electrified organ blowers, this instrument originally, like the organ in Ransdell Chapel, was operated by water power."
He said the wheel that's located on the left side of the organ was used for that purpose. He said the water pressure system would force air into the pipes, and later, a hand lever was installed on the side to pump air into the billows and pipes.
"The person pumping the lever must keep a steady pace so the air is constant without too much change in the pressure," he said, as his assistant and bachelor of music student, Jordan Hines, stepped into the organ to pump the lever for Roberts' performance.
He also said because the organ was kept as close to its historical state as was possible, there is a memory system on the instrument, "Which means that if the organist is playing a selection that has changes and there's not physically time to change," he said, "he would engage the system."
By engaging the system, the organist would pull or push out stops around the organ, with each one producing a different sound once pulled or pushed. He said he brought the help of two students with him for the task, Maria Milagros Boso Galli from Argentina and Hsin-I Guo from Taiwan, both of whom are graduate students in the master of music in piano performance program.
"I hope you enjoy the program," he said, "thank you."
Roberts then performed Festival March, Op. 29, No. 1, by Arthur Foote; A Fancy, by William Byrd; Fugure in G Minor, BWV 578, by Johann Sebastian Bach; Petit Canon, by Nadia Boulanger; and Toccata (from Suite Gothique, Op. 25), by Léon Boëllmann. This was followed by a standing ovation from the congregation.
Lloyd and Doris Vogt Farrar have been lifelong musicians with keen interest in collecting musical instruments. They met as undergraduate students at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Having lost his sight at the age of 35, Lloyd began collecting instruments and amassed a large collection, concentrating on historic brass and keyboard instruments. Since his retirement, most of the Farrar's collection has been donated to university collections, and Campbellsville University is the recipient of the Vogt-Farrar Historic Keyboard Collection.
Doris Farrar taught piano privately for 40 years and did research at the Library of Congress. Through her efforts, several works by the late 19th century American composer Amy Beach have been recovered and published.
The Farrars now make their home in Norris, Tn.
Roberts' performance was the first in the university's Noon Organ Series for the semester. The Noon Organ Recital Series runs once a month on Tuesdays and begins at 12:20 p.m. and ends at 12:50 p.m. Two of the recitals will be at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church with the rest at Ransdell Chapel.
Other upcoming Noon Organ Recital events this semester include:
For more information contact Roberts at (270) 789-5287 or at email@example.com.
- Oct. 15, Douglas Murray, professor of English at Belmont University, organist at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn., Ransdell Chapel;
- Nov. 5, Rodney Barbour, director of music and arts, Crestview Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, Ransdell Chapel;
- Feb. 11, Schuyler Robinson, professor of organ, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., Ransdell Chapel;
- March 18, Jan-Piet Knijff, organ scholar, Armidale, Australia, doctoral candidate in classics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., Our Lady of Perpetual Help; and
- April 8, Dr. Wesley Roberts, professor of music, with faculty from CU's School of Music, Ransdell Chapel.