University acquires $1.5 million pipe organ
A long-awaited $1.5 million organ is being installed at the University of North Texas' Murchison Performing Arts Center to allow in the university's renowned College of Music to perform a wider array of organ literature.
Installation of the Richard Ardoin-Paul Voertman Concert Organ began in the center's Winspear Hall last month by Wolff and Associates of Laval from the Canadian province of Quebec. The organ installation is supported by the Voertman-Ardoin Memorial Fund created by Denton philanthropist Paul Voertman.
Dr. James Scott, dean of the UNT College of Music, said the new organ "will have a significant impact on the college as a whole."
"For many years, it has been known that we have not had an instrument that was commensurate with the College of Music," he said. "The organ students will be able to play a lot of the literature on an appropriate instrument for the first time, and, just as importantly, we will be able to do the literature that calls for an organ performing with orchestra and choir at the Murchison. In the past, if we wanted to do that in Winspear Hall, we had to move in an electric organ, which was a very poor substitute."
The first phase in the installation -- lasting about five weeks -- consists of situating the organ's case behind the choral terrace of Winspear Performance Hall. The second phase, to be completed during the fall semester, includes installing pipes in the organ case. The third phase will involve voicing and tuning the instrument. When completed, the organ will have 3,820 pipes and will span 28 feet in width and 37 feet in height.
Preview performances of the organ are expected during the spring 2008 semester, and the organ will be formally inaugurated during the fall 2008 semester.
The Murchison Performing Arts Center, which opened in 1999, was originally built with an organ in the plans. The organ will be placed in front of Winspear Hall's pentagonal glass wall and will be considered a focal point of the 1,100-seat hall.
Other organs on the UNT campus include the 1985 Bedient French Classical Organ and the 1949 Möller, Op. 7676 in the Main Auditorium; the Rieger tracker in the Organ Recital Hall in the Music Building; the 1962 Hofmann organ in the Concert Hall in the Music Building and four practice organs on the third floor of the Music Building.
Dr. Jesse Eschbach, chairman of the College of Music's keyboard studies division, said that with the acquisition of the Richard Ardoin-Paul Voertman Concert Organ, "the organ program is completely rejuvenated and put back on the national map where it belongs."
"This organ allows us to do orchestra-organ literature that has never been heard on campus before, as well as important oratorio work with large choirs and organ," he said.