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Sunday, December 21, 2014         

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Restored organ to be dedicated

Raising the $250,000 and refurbishing the 68-year-old instrument has taken a Makiki church two years

By Pat Gee

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The first time Deborah Zuercher stepped up to play the newly refurbished pipe organ at the Parish of St. Clement, she felt as if she were entering the cockpit of a giant jet airplane.

Touching the ivory keys was like taking off on a runway as the soaring sounds reverberated from the high, peaked ceiling at twice the volume of the original.

"I thought that this was a glorious, very majestic organ," she said.

The community is invited to hear the 68-year-old Lefferts-Cooke Memorial Organ, rebuilt to the tune of $250,000, at a dedication service and reception next Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Makiki church.

Dedication recitals will follow on the evenings of Oct. 20 and Nov. 3.

"Pipe organ-building is a rare event for any community," said church spokesman Richard Casey.

The organ is made from the highest-quality components, and virtually every feature is skillfully hand-crafted, making the price tag quite reasonable, he said.

The parish began fundraising in 2008 in partnership with the Cooke Foundation, Atherton Family Foundation and Daughters of Hawaii for the project, Casey said.

The parish commissioned the Austin Organ Co. of Connecticut, the original manufacturer, to design and rebuild 80 percent of the 1940s-vintage instrument. Hand-making the thousands of parts took a year.

Installation began in February 2009 and was completed last Easter, he said.

Zuercher, an education teacher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the first time the new organ was played publicly could not have been more appropriate. For a year she had been leading worship on the church's piano while the organ was being rebuilt. The congregation had been used to a more minimalist sound to match the preceding Lenten season.

"So on Easter there was this glorious unveiling," she said, with the grand sound of the organ matching the jubilation of Jesus' resurrection. "It was kind of cool."

"You're like a symphony conductor," she said, because the organ can produce a wider variety of orchestral sounds. With a touch of a button, she can bring in sounds akin to trumpets, oboes, strings, flutes and the like.

The keyboard is wider, and there are many more pipes behind her as well as to the rear of the church.

"I grew up playing organs in Canada and Europe, so I've played many, many organs," she said. "This is among the largest I've played.

"With the wood inlay, this one is beautiful. The other one was a little modest."

Courtesy of the Daughters of Hawaii, the console back panel bears an insignia of Queen Emma in wood, 24-karat gold and mother-of-pearl marquetry.






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