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Church fills its pipe dreams

Stewart Oksenhorn

The praises sent to the heavens by the congregation of the Aspen Community Church should be considerably more forceful this summer.

Starting in mid-June, a new pipe organ will be installed at the Community Church, at the corner of Bleeker and Aspen streets in Aspen. The current organ, which features seven sets of pipes, will be replaced by a relatively mammoth instrument sporting some 30 pairs of pipes.

“It’s a very big pipe organ,” said Jon Busch, who has been instrumental in finding the new organ and having it installed at the church. “Currently, it will be the biggest pipe organ on the Western Slope, although there’s one in Grand Junction due to be enlarged, and will surpass this one in size.”

The new organ, which features an exposed pipe work display, was located by Organ Clearing House, a New England-based company that specializes in relocating such instruments. The organ was completed in 1978, and is coming from the First Lutheran Church in Boston.

The organ originally consisted of 20 pipes; for its relocation to Aspen, one of those pipes will be eliminated and 11 will be added. Among the 30 or so sets of pipes will be five deep bass sets, which Busch said will have a dramatic affect.

“That’s quite a number for an organ of this size,” said Busch, a longtime Aspen resident who first came to Aspen as a bassoon student with the Aspen Music Festival. “It will shake, rattle and roll. It will have the kind of response that sort of shakes you.”

The installation, being done by Wicks Organ Company, the original manufacturer, is set to take about one month. Busch said he hopes the installation will be complete before the end of the Aspen Music Festival’s summerlong tribute to the 1949 Goethe Bicentennial.

That event, which triggered the birth of the Music Festival, was capped by the only visit to America by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer, said Busch, was a renowned interpreter of Bach, and the church hopes to host a Bach recital this summer on its new organ.

Looking further down the road, Busch hopes the organ will be used for a regular recital series, and could feature graduate recitalists from the organ program at Colorado University, Boulder.

“This instrument is suitable for the majority of organ repertoire,” said Busch.

The new organ is being financed by contributions to the church. Some $130,000 has already been raised, covering most of the cost. Busch said the church is looking for further contributions, and would like to add two more sets of pipes to the organ.

Additionally, the church is looking for a buyer for its present organ.


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