On a recent Saturday morning in February, several of Susan See’s piano students gathered at the Washington Presbyterian Church to experience some very cool sounds, learn a bit of physics and play the magnificent Casavant pipe organ which was installed in the early 1970’s by Casavant representative, Carroll Hanson of Iowa City. Now, such an instrument would cost upwards of $900,000 or more!
Carroll Hanson and Virginia Bordwell, the organist of the Presbyterian Church, demonstrated how the organ works. We even got to explore a “hidden room” which holds the bellows for this gigantic instrument! It was interesting to get back behind the organ, not only to see the keyboards but to also see how the foot pedals work. Playing the pedals requires special shoes to help navigate.
After Virginia played a few selections including a portion of a piece that she always uses at Easter where she literally does pull out all the stops, Carroll explained how the pipes work. Everyone who wished, got to play a prepared piece multiple times on the organ experiencing how the whole character of their piece was dramatically altered when the stops were changed whey they repeated the piece. Students also got to see and try out a small harpsichord that was built from a kit by Virginia’s husband, Rick.
At the end of our time of learning about and playing this pipe organ, two of the older students indicated their desire to take some organ lessons. Before we left, we sang a hymn of praise with the organ accompanying us. Check out the photos and a couple of video snippets of Adria Ebersole and Lara Kliewer playing the organ.