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Historic pipe organ modernized

People on Kaua‘i have a unique opportunity to experience the new pipe organ at All Saints Episcopal Church being played by one of the world’s organ greats, Dr. John Sherer, on Saturday at the All Saints’ organ series concert.

“It’s first-come-first-served,” said Morris Wise, the All Saints’ organist. “Doors open at 5:30 p.m., the concert starts at 6 p.m., and everyone is welcome. It’s free, or donate whatever you are able.”

Wise said the capacity of the church is 100 people, and with the overflow, the performance should be able to house up to 175 people.

The organ’s player station will be relocated from its side location to the center of the altar area for the performance.

Sherer, according to program notes, has been hailed by critics as a “terrific musician, a pronounced virtuoso who plays with assurance, authority and suberb energy.” Sherer has performed numerous organ recitals throughout the United States, Japan and England, including several for regional organist conventions.

Since 1996, he has served as organist and director of music for the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, where he also manages a concert series with more than 100 events each year.

“And, his wife, Rev. Kara Sherer, is an Episcopal priest,” Wise said. “Including this Saturday concert, this will be the eighth time we’ve hosted organ greats to perform on Kaua‘i’s only pipe organ, that when combined with our Kaua‘i atmosphere, is located in paradise. We’ve had people from all parts of the world fly in just to be able to play this organ in paradise.”

Deemed the Sloggett/Wilcox ‘Ohana Organ, the original instrument, an Austin Chorophone Pipe Organ, was donated to the church by Mrs. S.W. Wilcox in 1925, the same year the church founded in 1924 moved to its current location on a gift of land by the ali‘i.

At that time, it was the first pipe organ on Kaua‘i, and following its five-year restoration project, is still Kaua‘i’s only pipe organ.

“There are other organs on the island,” Morris said. “The United Church of Christ (in Lihu‘e) has an instrument with two ranks of pipes. There is another instrument on the Westside, but it’s not operational. When the Wilcox family donated the pipe organ to the church, it had four ranks, or more than 300 pipes. During the restoration that was dedicated on May 15, 2021, the organ was merged with another organ by the Rosales Organ Builders crew.”

“The instrument has a fine pedigree,” Wise said. “The ‘new’ organ, a Rosales Opus 41, now has 20 ranks with 1,268 pipes.”

Additional technological advances provide the instrument to record itself and play back the recording on its own, Wise said, demonstrating the instrument’s capability of replicating the sound of the original 4-rank instrument as well as other sound effects.

“This is why people fly in just to be able to play the instrument,” Wise said. “We have an organ teacher on O‘ahu who flies over to teach her group of organ students.”

Wise said All Saints is hosting another concert in March featuring Dr. Caroline Robinson, currently the organist and associate choimaster at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. In addition to her performance on March 16 at All Saints, Robinson will also be performing in a concert on March 19 at Central Union Church on O‘ahu.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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