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Grand Forks Herald Article 4/20/96

Crookston Woman Pulls Out All the Stops

Dream comes true by funding custom-made pipe organ
By Stephen J. Lee Herald Staff Writer

(words in parentheses are added for clarification)

CROOKSTON-The new organ was just what Loretta Vandseth hoped and dreamed for, she said. And the fact is, it's what she paid for, too. Vandseth felt pretty good about it after a dedication concert Sunday at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Crookston.

The pipe organ was made by Johnson Organ Co. in Fargo and will be the cover story soon in the color magazine of the American Guild of Organists. It was played Sunday by (Dr.) Charles Ore, who is know in church circles as an organ composer and performer; he is music professor at Concordia College, Seward Neb. The organ was made possible by Vandseth's donation of $150,000. "I've dreamed about this for many years," Vandseth said after Ore's concert. She taught school in Crookston for 50 years and traveled with her husband to most countries in the world, she said. They always found a special beauty and refuge in churches and church music wherever they were, she said.

Vandseth has been a member of Our Savior's since 1945 and long before an organ committee was formed in 1987 to plan the purchase of a new one, she had wanted a pipe organ there, she said. Now it's there. Sunday from the balcony, Ore "gave a tour," he said, of the new organ for the more than 220 people in the audience by playing works that would show all the sounds and colors of the organ, tailor-made for Our Savior's. The choir sand along, as did the audience, for time to time, in the concert-worship service. It's a taste of heaven," said (Parish Worker) Laurain Jurchen, who, since 1962, has been one of several organists at the church. She and the others have played it since it was installed last fall. "We're still learning where all the stops are," she laughed.

German-style organ
The organ is of the northern German style of pipe organ (building) known for hard, brilliant sound, said John Reitmeier, who led the congregation committee that chose Lance Johnson to build it. There is a century old mate to the organ in a chapel in the Berlin Dome Cathedral in Germany, Reitmeier said. Johnson Organ Co. builds two to four pipe organs each year, said Johnson, who with his son, Mike, attended the dedication. He started on Our Savior's organ a year ago and installed it in October, Johnson said. The organ is built in a box of sorts, partly so that it can be more easily be disassembled and moved when sometime it needs to be, Reitmeier said (the building it's in was built in 1936 - the organ should have a life of 100 years or more and so at some time can be moved to a new building). The 17 ranks of pipes, from 8-foot wooden (giving 16 foot tones) and metal ones that push out chest pounding lows, to tiny, delicate high-toned ones, 924 in all, are enclosed in oak woodwork that looks like it has been there as long as the church has. The organ not only has all the bells and whistles, literally, of a traditional pipe organ, but computer-generated sounds and recording ability, Reitmeier said. Every one of the 924 pipes was built, and later "voiced," or adjusted specifically for Our Savior's, to sound best in its home.

That means the entire church is part of the instrument, (Dr.) Ore said. The hardwood ceiling and floor of Our Savior's create a great acoustic chamber for the pipes, much like the wooden box of a violin gives the strings something to use for sound, Ore said. Three years ago, Vandseth anonymously set up a charitable organ fund for Our Savior's through the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (Foundation). Only one or two church members knew who was behind the gift; they prevailed on her to go public. Sunday was a celebration of what the organ means for the congregation and how it sounds. "I really love it," Vandseth said.

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