Yup. You read that correctly. After many years of faithful service to the church, our 1929 Möller pipe organ needs some serious, serious help. It’s a project I had hoped to put off a little while longer, but the problem is getting worse and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

If you would like to contribute to the Organ Restoration Fund, please click on the form below.

NEW POST: ORGAN RESTORATION UPDATE

November 1, 2018

There has been a LOT of progress with the organ restoration project, and I’m thrilled to share some things that have happened since the last newsletter:

 Over thirty people attended an “organ crawl” on September 15th to tour the organ. One of the attendees, eleven-year-old Will Cassidy, was so inspired he organized a cider and doughnut stand the following Saturday, raising over $500 which he donated to the restoration fund. Thank you, Will!

 Members of the Organ Team and Stewardship met to talk about coordinating efforts. It was a great meeting resulting in wide-open communication and clear paths forward both together and as separate units. Special thanks to Dave Beecher (head of Stewardship) for his insight.

 The “Survivor’s Swing Band” fundraiser concert was fantastic, raising close to $2,000! They also very kindly donated some of the proceeds from CD sales to further support our project.

 Angela Clemmons, director of the “Shoreline Soul” gospel workshops and concerts, generously agreed to donate the proceeds from their upcoming concert in December toward the restoration fund. Thank you so much, Angela!

 Sue Wenderoth suggested the proceeds from the upcoming Christmas Fair be put toward the project, and the Board approved. Thank you all for your show of support.

 Nick Thompson-Allen and Joe Dzeda from the A. Thompson-Allen organ company came out on October 7th and 9th to discuss the organ project in greater detail with the congregation. A lot of great questions were asked, and Nick and Joe were even filmed on the 9th as part of an upcoming YouTube video.

 Several more donors have stepped forward to help fund the project in a big way, and we are incredibly grateful for their generosity. We have also been receiving numerous smaller gifts which have been adding up quickly. Don’t forget, there will be a special congregational vote on Sunday, November 4th immediately following worship to approve using $50,000 from trust funds to support the project. And remember, should the congregation approve this expenditure, it will be matched by an anonymous donor who will generously contribute a further $50,000.

Should these things happen on November 4th, it would put us at about $225,000 (as of this writing), and our goal is $280,000. We’re getting there, but we still have progress to make.

But wait—there’s more! A Madison couple has offered to match, dollar-for-dollar, every contribution made to the organ restoration fund between now and the end of the year, up to $20,000. We are extremely grateful for this offer, so if you are looking for a good time to donate, now is the time.
T
here are a few more scheduled fundraising events for this year listed on the next page, and I’d love to see you at one (or all!) of them. In the meantime, I hope you might consider coming contributing to the restoration, especially since your donation would be doubled with the exciting matching gift.

Thank you, and please feel free to contact me with any questions! I would love to talk with you.
Nathan Bayreuther, Director of Music Ministry
(203) 245-2739, ext. 21

NEW POST: UPCOMING FUNDRAISER EVENTS

September 25, 2018

“Survivor’s Swing Band” Fundraiser
Saturday, September 29th, 7:00 pm Meetinghouse
This seven-piece professional jazz band generates energy and excitement wherever they perform! Based here in Connecticut, they play the classic melodies from the 1920s through the 1940s that everyone wants to hear. A free-will offering will be collected to support the restoration project.

Discussion with the Restorers
Sunday, October 7th, 11:15 am Meetinghouse
This is your chance to meet the owners of the company that will be performing the restoration and ask questions immediately following the morning worship service. Nick Thompson-Allen and Joe Dzeda performed the last restoration in 1987, and they know the organ better than anyone.

Organ Discussion No. 2
Tuesday, October 9th, 7:00 pm Church House Chapel
For those unable to attend the previous discussion, you are welcome to come to this second session! Both Nick and Joe will be returning to answer your questions and explain the restoration process in detail. This will take place in the Chapel adjacent to the church.

“Lost and Found” Fundraiser
Sunday, November 4th, 4:00 pm Meetinghouse
Richard Flanders, a seasoned Broadway performer and award-winning singer, joins his wife, Anne Tarpey-Flanders, actor, singer, and co-producer of Broadway Concerts Direct, for a fun-filled evening of classic Broadway songs! A free-will offering will be collected to support the restoration project.

POST: ORGAN RESTORATION UPDATE

Sep 8, 2018
The Organ Restoration Team has made a lot of progress since the very end of August. Here are some of the things that have happened since then:

  • At the end of August, we met as a Team and toured the organ to get a better sense of the work ahead. We also created a plan for moving forward, and David Keiser accepted the position of Chairman of the Team. The rest of the team include Nathan Bayreuther, Jan Caligan, Burt Rose, and Christine Sima.
  • David and Nathan met with the Board at the beginning of September to explain more about the project. During that meeting, we talked about the importance of having the church’s endorsement of the restoration and the importance of using some of the church’s own money to fund it. Consequently, the Board voted to ask for the congregation’s support in using $50,000 from trust funds to help with the project. This will be brought up as a special congregational vote on Sunday, November 4th immediately following worship. It should be noted that, should the congregation approve this expenditure, it will be matched by an anonymous donor who will generously contribute a further $50,000.
  • Members of the Team met with Finance to talk about the fundraising efforts and how best to proceed. It was a very productive meeting with Finance’s approval of the Team moving forward, and both teams had open communication and felt they were all “on the same page.”
  • A brochure was created detailing the whole project and, more importantly, making the case for why it should be restored. This brochure was sent out to both members and friends of the church, about 400 total.
  • A series of five events were created as fundraisers and to bring awareness to the project. They include a tour of the organ conducted by Nathan and Wally, two fundraiser concerts, and two opportunities to talk with the owners of the company who would be performing the restoration. (See the remaining four events on the next page.)
  • Several donors have stepped forward to help fund the project in a big way, and we are incredibly grateful for their generosity. Over $60,000 have been raised or pledged, and should the November 4th vote be successful, that will provide a further $100,000 ($50,000 from trust funds and $50,000 from the anonymous donor). This gives us a great head start, but we still need significant further funding to get to the required $281,850.

If you did not receive a brochure in the mail and would like one, please feel free to pick one up in the main office anytime. In the meantime, I hope you might consider coming to one (or all!) of the events listed on the next page and consider contributing to the restoration.

Thank you, and please feel free to contact me with any questions! I would love to talk with you.

Nathan Bayreuther
Director of Music Ministry
(203) 245-2739, ext. 21

POST: ORGAN RESTORATION

August 2018
Back in 1929, organ companies used high quality leather, and the Möller company said, “This will last about fifty years.” True to their word, in the mid-1980s, the leather started to get brittle and break down, requiring expensive patching that was only a temporary band-aid. So, in 1987, the church invested in a full leather restoration. At that time, we were told, “The leather currently available to organ companies nowadays is inferior to the original stuff; this should last about 30 years.” Well, they were right again.
And here we are, 30 years later, and the leather is breaking down, leaking air, causing dead notes, and wreaking havoc on the console and pipe chambers.

Our organ maintenance company has been patching the organ for the past few years, but it has now reached a point where even the patches aren’t holding. The organ is in an accelerating decline. It may not sound like it on Sundays, but trust me—it’s getting worse, and at some point it will just stop working.

Fortunately, there’s a plan in place to undertake another full restoration of the organ, which will replace every scrap of leather to be found as well as address a whole bunch of other issues. It’s scheduled to begin January of 2019, and all the 1,548 pipes will need to be removed and the console disassembled. The whole process will take about a year, during which time it will still be partially functional as they work on one chamber at a time.

As you may imagine, it’s extremely expensive. The amount of labor required is astronomical, and it requires the knowledge of well-trained, experienced, specialized professionals. After experimenting with synthetics and other leather alternatives, organ companies have determined that there’s just nothing that compares to the old techniques using high-quality leather. The upcoming re-leathering project will allow the organ to last another 50 years without another major restoration.

So… I might as well just say it. It’s going to cost $281,850. Once you pick your jaw up off the floor, clean your glasses (if you wear them), and re-read that sentence a few times, you’ll realize, as much as I do, that it’s a staggering figure. It’s the cost of a darn nice house.

So why bother? Why not just stop using it, or even buy an electronic replacement for a lot less? Aren’t pipe organs going out of fashion, anyway?

Well, I’ll tell you what I believe. I believe our Möller organ is worth it. It has been the primary instrument to lead music in our worship services for nearly 90 years, and the church has wisely invested in its maintenance for all that time. No electronic instrument can match the power and effectiveness of the real thing.

World-class organists have played on it and continue to play it, and it has several unique features not seen on any other organ in the area. It has been valued at over a million dollars for insurance purposes, and its appreciation is only going up as it gets older. It has a historical significance and is listed on the Organ Historical Society’s Pipe Organ Database (#6841, if you’d like to search for it online).

New pipe organs are being built all the time all around the world. The power and beauty of a pipe organ raises our spirits, moves us to tears, brings us closer to God, can console our grief, and enhance our joy.
It’s a simple historic fact that for centuries, no other single instrument has served as effectively in leading congregational song than the pipe organ. It’s this particular organ that initially attracted me to this church back in 2005.

In the coming months, an organ fundraising team will be assembled, fundraising events will be planned, and a lot more information will be coming your way. In the meantime, if you would like to either be a part of the fundraising team or contribute monetarily, your efforts would be extremely appreciated. Fortunately, we have already had a $35,000 contribution from an anonymous donor—what a blessing! Donations of all kinds—large and tiny—will be put directly toward the cost and will go a long way to making this project a huge success.

I plan on making this a community effort, and I’m convinced we can get there. No doubt, it’s going to be a lot of work, but the end result will be a completely restored instrument worthy of the cost. I hope you’ll consider how you may be able to help. I’d love to talk to you more if you have questions—I could talk all day about it! Just ask Liz!

I’ll be in touch again soon. It’s a privilege to work here and both play and maintain such fine instruments like the organ. We’re fortunate to have it, and with continued maintenance, we’ll have it for another 90 years if not for centuries to come.

Nathan Bayreuther
Director of Music Ministry