LAC Dedicates Long-Awaited Pipe Organ on Nov. 23

by Stacy Styles

(November 12, 2008) The congregation of the Larchmont Avenue Presybterian Church will get a taste of the breadth and beauty of their recently completed pipe organ at a dedication service following Sunday worship on November 23. Built painstakingly over a number of years by James Konzelman, a master organ builder based in New Jersey, the new organ comprises 49 ranks and 2,916 pipes and is played on a 4-manual console. (See: A Pipe Dream Comes True.)

organ console
The console (above) of Larchmont Avenue Church's new organ controls thousands of pipes (below).

Pipes“This fine instrument accompanies the choir and congregation each Sunday morning, and it will be an ideal recital instrument in lower Westchester, able to accommodate music from a wide variety of styles and time periods,” said Douglas Kostner, the church’s director of music ministry.

Following the service of dedication, Mr. Kostner will hold a short lecture and a demonstration of the organ in the chancel, geared toward adults and children alike, so congregants and visitors can appreciate the subtle expressive nuances of the organ at close range.

In 1972, LAC installed an Allen electronic organ, an instrument on the cutting edge of its time. However, over the years, it progressively deteriorated, and by the late 1990s, it became clear that the organ had reached the end of its useful life. By 2001, the decision was made to build a new pipe organ, and the fund-raising began, from pledges to art auctions to a Halloween masked ball. In addition, the church sanctuary was remodeled extensively to improve the acoustics in preparation for the new organ.

“We all feel such joy in seeing this project come to fruition,” remarked Mary Joyce Beringer, a long time parishioner and member of the choir. “It is a pleasure to hear the new organ being played by Douglas, who is such an accomplished musician, in the marvelous acoustics that now exist in our sanctuary.”

“We rejoice in the completion of the Larchmont Avenue Church pipe organ, with great thanks for the array of faithful efforts that brought it to be," exclaimed Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Bill Crawford. "It is an astoundingly great instrument, a precious vehicle and vessel of sonorous sound and magnificent music. This wonderful organ will enliven and uplift, deepen and inspire our worship and the whole ministry of the church, to the glory of God!”

A series of concerts is planned for late spring of 2009. The inaugural organ concert will be held on the evening of May 2, 2009 with Kent Tritle performing. Mr. Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic, director of music ministries at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City and music director of the Oratorio Society of New York.

“We look forward to a superb inaugural recital by a first-rate organist, and we hope that this instrument will serve the church and its community for many years to come,” said Mr. Kostner.

Stacy Styles is a member of the Larchmont Avenue Church.