The Pipes Are Calling!

Donors Choose the Program For Benefit Organ Concert

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Music fans worldwide have put their money where their music is for a concert to raise funds for the Kilgen Organ at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Brooklyn.

Internationally renowned organist Stephen Tharp will be performing the benefit concert on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Church, 254 Hicks St., Brooklyn. The program has been selected via donations to the Our Lady of Refuge Organ Fund. (Donors were able to buy time at the concert for their favorite works, selecting from a list that ranged from the $100 “Rigaudon” by Andre Campra to the $1,000 “Sonata Eroica” by Joseph Jongen. Each donor whose chosen piece is played will receive a CD of the performance.)

The Kilgen Organ (Opus 5163) at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Brooklyn was designed by premier organist and composer Charles Courboin and dedicated in July 1934. The landmark instrument had to be removed in 2007 to repair water damage to the building. A complete restoration of the organ is expected to cost more than $215,000, but more than $150,000 have already been raised by members of the parish and the worldwide pipe-organ community.

Efforts have included the Sponsor-a-Pipe program and the production of Resurrectio, a two-CD set of performances by such noted organists as Peter Conte, Ken Cowan, Olivier Latry, Daniel Roth and, of course, Stephen Tharp, who is contributing his time and talents once more to the cause.

Joseph Vitacco, Chair of the Organ Committee, has spearheaded the restoration project. His own love of organ music — sparked by childhood visits to Our Lady of Refuge — inspired him to found JAV Recordings in 1997. The company pairs premier musicians with pipe organs around the world. For him, restoring the Kilgen Organ is as much about the future as the past.

“At one time, Brooklyn had 900 pipe organs — 900! It’s hard to imagine,” says Vitacco. The instruments were in public schools, auditoriums, concert halls, museums, movie theaters and houses of worship of all denominations. Of all of those instruments, only about 70 are still in use (in various states of repair) in a city of 2.5 million.

Advance tickets are $20 for the concert; $30 for the post-concert reception. Tickets at the door for the concert are $25.

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Filed under Arts, Brooklyn Heights

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