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Brown-Bagging at Busch Hall


Harvard University’s Thursday Lunchtime Organ Recital Series, featuring the 1958 Flentrop Organ in Adolphus Busch Hall, begins its Fall 2013 series on Thursday, October 3rd at 12:15. These free half-hour programs continue weekly until November 21st and feature a variety of accomplished artists from many different backgrounds.

One of the most recorded and recognizable pipe organs in the United States, this instrument is also one of the most influential installations in the development of American organ building in the 20th century. Installed in 1958 by respected Dutch organ builder Dirk A. Flentrop, it remains one of his firm’s finest achievements: a beautifully balanced instrument and a perfect marriage of organ to its room.

Adolphus Bush Hall (BMInt staff photo)
Adolphus Busch Hall (BMInt staff photo)

Reacting to the lush, florid romanticism that dominated organ building aesthetics in the first part of the 20th century, Flentrop’s instruments represent a return to classical ideals. Indeed, this transition is very much analogous to the return of classicism in visual art. Just as Jacques-Louis David shunned the frivolity of the Rococo, Flentrop rejected the excesses of romanticism and returned to clean sounds produced through traditional mechanisms. The Busch organ is one of the first and finest such instruments built in the United States, and helped to set a precedent for how American organs would be built for decades to come.

It is also an instrument that introduced an entire generation of Americans to the glories of the organ and its repertoire. By way of American organist E. Power Biggs’ many recordings on this instrument and his live CBS radio broadcasts, transmitted nationally on Sunday mornings from Busch Hall for many years, millions of listeners became acquainted with the music of Bach and others.

The Flentrop organ sits in the old Germanic Museum, a building now administered by the Harvard Art Museums and utilized by the Center for European Studies. It comprises 27 individual stops over three 56-note manual keyboards and a 30-note pedal keyboard; it has slider chests with mechanical key and stop actions. The entire instrument was cleaned this past summer, a process that involves removing every one of its 1,600+ individual pipes, transporting them for cleaning, repairing mechanisms in the instrument itself, and resetting the temperament upon its reassembly. Indeed, the organ sounds as if brand new.

This year’s recital series, sponsored by the Harvard Organ Society, Harvard Art Museums, and The Memorial Church, is listed below. All concerts are free and open to the public; the audience is invited to bring a bag lunch and eat quietly during the concert.

Adolphus Busch Hall is located at 29 Kirkland Street in Cambridge, adjacent to Memorial Hall and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Christian Lane is Assistant University Organist and Choirmaster at Harvard University.  A laureate of several major competitions, he earned First Prize in four such American contests,  most at the 2011 Canadian International Organ Competition.

*Due to demands associated with reopening the Fogg Art Gallery in 2014, Harvard Art Museums has indicated that the recital series must move from Busch Hall for two semesters, starting in Spring 2014. Details regarding its relocation are pending.*

Thursday, October 3
Christian Lane
Associate University Organist & Choirmaster
The Memorial Church, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thursday, October 10
Nahri Ahn
Granada High School, Livermore, California

Thursday, October 17
Members of the Harvard Organ Society

Thursday, October 24
Jonathan Ortloff
Concert Organist
Boston, Massachusetts
Spencer Organ Co.
Waltham, Massachusetts

Thursday, October 31
Thomas Pehlken
Regional Director of Music (Kreiskantor)
Cologne, Germany

Thursday, November 7
Ethan Haman
Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos, California
Irvington High School
Fremont, California

Thursday, November 14
Peter Krasinski
Faculty Member
St. Paul’s Choir School, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Providence, Rhode Island
Beth El Temple Center, Belmont, Massachusetts

Thursday, November 21
Dr. James W. Kosnik
Professor of Music
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia

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