Organ concert features three accomplished musicians

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - 14:27
  • Pastor James Baumgartner of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, sits at the bench the church’s organ that will be played by three accomplished organists on Aug. 7 during a fundraising concert at 3 p.m. Photo by Amy Armstrong for the Star

The rich, full, melodic sounds of pipe organ music are set to be featured Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Chugiak as Pipe Dreams 2016 is presented on what promoters say is the “the most northernmost mechanical action (tracker-style) organ in the western hemisphere.”

The pipe organ in Our Redeemer’s sanctuary was built in 1985 in Bray, Ireland, by Kenneth Jones pipe organ builders. At the time of its gifting to the church, the organ had 12 stops and more than 800 pipes with a design style similar to the European tradition of the type of pipe organs that composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach not only played, but also for which they wrote.

In 2015, church members began plans for a complete maintenance overhaul of the organ including dismantling, cleaning, repair, regulation, reassembly and tuning. An increase of two stops — trumpet sounds — and nearly 200 more pipes is included in the plans.

Work is scheduled for October. Other intended work includes completing the organ pipes in the façade, adding new wind bellows and the installation of a tremulant, which is a is a device on a pipe organ which varies the wind supply to the pipes of one or more divisions of the organ.

“Once completed, the organ that is a centerpiece of the music ministry of the church will continue to provide musical inspiration through worship and community outreach as Our Redeemer fulfills its mission of service to God’s people in Alaska and beyond,” according to the Our Redeemer website.

The Sunday afternoon fundraiser concert includes three performers: Darrell Bailey, Harold Brown and John Zimmerman.

Bailey often plays church services in the summer months while vacationing in Alaska. He is a professor of music in the Purdue University Department of Music and Arts Technology in West Lafayette, Ind. He studied piano from age six and began organ in high school. He has two undergraduate degrees — organ performance and music — from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio.

His master’s degree in music teaching is also from Oberlin. His doctoral degree in music was obtained at the University of Illinois. He along with Charles Hoffer are the co-authors of a book widely used in music instruction throughout the United States, “Music Listening Today.”

He is familiar with the type of renovation Our Redeemer’s organ will undergo: He purchased, relocated and renovated a 12-stop pipe organ in his hometown during his student years.

Brown is a well-known American organist who has played the leading concert halls in Australia, Europe, South America and the United States and has performed as a soloist with several symphony orchestras. His performances of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto during tours throughout Brazil and Chile were televised in both countries.

He has the distinction of playing the premier of Donald Waxman’s “Serenade and Fantasy” with Saul Bitran, the first violinist of the Grammy award winning Cuarteto Latinoamericano. He also played with Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Constantine Orbelian.

He studied at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and at the Juilliard School in New York. He teaches at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Va. He is an active church musician.

Zimmerman began playing piano at age five with his older brother, Karl, who played the same pieces over and over again. He listened actively to his brother’s playing and quickly began to play from memory. In 1997, he won second place in the American Guild of Organists Young Artist Competition for region VII.

In 2001, he earned his bachelor of music at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. He completed a two-year internship with C.B. Fisk Organbuilders in Gloucester, Mass. In that internship he worked with many new instruments as well as conducted field repairs. He assisted with the major overhaul of the historic organ at the Old West Church in Boston.

Zimmerman has been an organist, choir director and handbell choir director for several denominations. In 2006, he became a pilot for Alaska Airlines in 2006 but he remains active in the organ world.

The full list of pieces to be performed on Sunday is on the church’s website. A few of the highlights include: “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Bach, “Piano Concerto in G Minor, First movement” by Felix Mendelssohn, “Folk Music from the British Isles” by Londonderry Air and Loch Lomond, “Polonaise in A Flat Major,” by Frederick Chopin, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and other hymns with audience participation by singing.

A wine and cheese reception with informational displays regarding the organ renovation is scheduled to follow the concert.

Donations for the organ renovation can be made online at under the “Kenneth Jones Organ Renovation.”

Renovations are anticipated to cost $40,000. As of Fri., July 29, $1,200 had been raised.

The organ was donated by the family of Mark Johnson in his memory. Johnson was killed on Nov. 9, 1980 in a hunting accident.

Learn more about the Pipe Dreams Summer Concert 2016 online at


Facebook comments