On Monday, April 7, tickets will go on sale for the extensive calendar of events that has been planned to celebrate the homecoming of the Kotzschmar Organ to Merrill Auditorium. The season will be kicked off at the Grand Opening Concert on Saturday, September 27, which will feature Peter Richard Conte, the Grand Court Organist of the famed Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia, as well as Portland’s own Municipal Organist Ray Cornils and the Kotzschmar Festival Brass. The concert will be followed by a full spectrum of performances, lectures, and more, with the mission of cultivating public awareness and appreciation of the Kotzschmar.
The season will feature organ tours and demonstrations, showings of silent films including 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera on Halloween night (costume contest included!), a Hymn Festival in collaboration with the Portland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Salvation Army, family concerts, and the 25th anniversary of the Maine classic “Christmas with Cornils – A Kotzschmar Christmas.”
The recent renovation and reinstallation has created a substantial amount of anticipation, both for the group and in the community. “The Kotzschmar Organ is a symbol of Portland’s rich cultural history,” says FOKO’s executive director, Kathleen Grammer, “and we’re beyond excited to have it returning to Merrill Auditorium this year. The reinstallation will allow audiences to experience the organ with the clarity and vibrancy it was originally intended to produce.”
Since it was installed in the auditorium in 1912, the Kotzschmar Organ has been an integral element in Portland’s history and arts. As one of the two functioning municipal organs in the United States, the Kotzschmar draws attendees and performers from across the country for concerts, festivals, demonstrations, and more. It has seen a century of use in Merrill Auditorium, and is now in the charge of Portland’s tenth municipal organist, Ray Cornils. Although the organ belongs to the city, the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) is a non-profit organization that has secured and provided funding for Kotzschmar-related events, educational programs, and maintenance since 1981.
For ticket information:
PortTIX, www.porttix.com, (207) 842-0800
FOKO, www.foko.org, (207) 553-4363