Musical legacy

K-State’s All Faiths Chapel organ celebrates 60th anniversary

The pipe organ — its sheer size and magnitude — is sure to impress even the most musically inexperienced onlooker. However, beneath the size and magnitude lies a unique variety of sounds to elicit a multitude of experiences and emotions for its audience.

The Austin pipe organ housed at All Faiths Chapel on the campus of Kansas State University is no exception. “The All Faiths Chapel Austin organ was completed in 1961,” said David Pickering, professor of music at K-State. “It was constructed with the vision of organ architect James Jamison, whose book ‘Organ Design and Appraisal’ provided a blueprint for how the organ was built.

Jamison was contacted for input on the design of the organ and the rest, as the saying goes, was history. “Jamison’s idea of organ building was built on three pillars of functionality,” Pickering said. “One being a recital instrument, two being a teaching instrument and lastly as a church instrument.”

Unfortunately, Jamison passed away before the organ was completed, but the historical contribution of Jamison’s design is found within the All Faiths Chapel Austin organ. Its significance is not lost on the organists who know the pipe organ’s story.

“Many organists like myself hold the All Faiths Chapel organ in very high regard,” Pickering said. “Its place as Jamison’s last organ design is not lost on us.”

This November marked the organ’s 60th anniversary at K-State, the music department raised funds throughout the summer to refurbish and maintain this important piece of history. Pickering hopes that students across K-State can come to enjoy learning and experiencing the pipe organ for themselves. “The All Faiths organ gives all students the chance to learn how to play the organ no matter their experience level or major,” Pickering said. “Some of my best students have historically been non-majors and, given that the availability of organ instruction in higher education is not as readily available as it once was, it’s really heartening to see so many students take an interest in the organ.”

Pickering is grateful to K-State for having a pipe organ on its campus. “The fact that K-State has a tenure-track faculty position in organ is something that I am grateful for,” Pickering said. “Organist instruction is something that is becoming less and less of a feature of universities across the nation, so to have it here is a tremendous offering for students who aspire to be organists themselves.”

If you’re interested in supporting the maintenance of the All Faiths Chapel pipe organ, please contact Heather Strafuss at heathers@ksufoundation.org or 785-775-2096 or Trevor Jueneman at trevorj@ksufoundation.org or 785-713-1563.

By James Dalton Burton

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