The Auditorium Organ: The Midwest's American Classic

David Pickering
Crown Center Sheraton Hotel - FREMONT

The organ in the Auditorium at Community of Christ world headquarters in Independence, Missouri, was designed three years before the death of Aeolian-Skinner’s G. Donald Harrison. Joseph Whiteford, Harrison’s successor, carried out the organ’s design according to Harrison’s wishes after his untimely death in 1956. Whiteford imposed his ideas of voicing and scaling on the instrument, which underwent modifications by Charles McMannis and by Quimby Pipe Organs during an extensive renovation of the Auditorium organ from 1984-1989. The Auditorium organ became well known through a distinguished recital series which has featured more than eighty famous American and European organists. The organ was also broadcast throughout the United States and Canada on a radio program known as The Auditorium Organ, which reached over 250 radio stations in its prime, and introduced many Americans to organ music. This academic paper will discuss the long and interesting series of events that lead to the Auditorium organ’s installation, the Auditorium organ’s importance to the Midwest organ scene, and detail the changes to the organ that have taken place over the years. The Auditorium Organ, a book that I wrote detailing the Auditorium Organ’s history that was published by the Organ Historical Society Press in 2013, will also be referenced. A handout detailing the presentation’s highlights will be provided.

Thursday, July 5
11:00 – 11:45am