AGO Natl Conv (ChicAGO)/Valparaiso Univ. events, 7/3/06, part 1

With time only for selected events, despite my proximity to ChicAGO, (the 2006 national convention of the American Guild of Organists, Chicago) ,there was no doubt of my plan to re-visit the holy ground of Valparaiso
University’s Chapel of the Resurrection, which represents a lot about my
own early background and whose instrument, path-breaking within the
neo-classic milieu, has also evolved with the times. Since I was only
familiar with the organ’s renovation through recordings, I knew it was
about time to experience this venue in the flesh. with my own ears and guts.

My own humble photos, a bit dingy due to the gray skies outside, are at … this
striking 1960’s space was a monument of Lutheran high-church of the
time, with the brilliant riot of stained-glass color and a potpourri of
symbolism you could spend hours unpacking (and part of the fun was doing
just that as the worship and music unfolded).

My own personal connection with the place began with campus visits when
my older brother attended in the early 60’s – the whole thing just
captivated me… from singing “The God of Abraham Praise” with a pretty
full campus congregation… to hearing (and recording) some student
practicing Alain’s “Deux danses” and Marchand’s striking 6-voice “Plein
jeu” (the one with double-pedal)… to later visits in the 80’s for
Institute of Liturgical Studies sessions… and, last time, finally
playing the instrument in the early 90’s, in its original state, as
renovation plans were firming up.

The 1959 Schlicker instrument, with the noted/notorious Paul Bunjes as
consultant, was certainly an organ of substance for its day – with its
16′ “Holzprincipal” in the pedal (a lighter relative of the British
“open wood”?!), wooden Pedal Posaune, and 16′ principal basis on the
Great, the stage was set for more-than-adequate sonority, and in the
huge room the trademark sizzle of the foundation work was not at all
unpleasant. The later extremes of Bunjes’ designs – missing 8′
principals, weird pipe formats – were not much in evidence, and even the
one oddball mutation that was prepared for (Swell Schreipfeife, 1-3/5 +
1-1/7) had to wait for Dobson’s completion!


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