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GOSHEN -- Before the speeches, before the thank-yous, before the praise, the dedication ceremony for the new organ in Goshen College's Rieth Recital Hall began, fittingly, with music.
About 200 attended Sunday's hour-long ceremony. Organist Christine Thogersen, assistant professor of music at Goshen College, who was joined by a string trio on the opening work, described the dedication as a "celebration of the years of work and artistry."
While several people were singled out for recognition, the organ was the center of attention and will remain in the spotlight through the coming week of special concerts and recitals.
"This is a very, very special day," Maynard Sauder, co-chair of the Music Building Steering Committee, told the audience. "When I heard that music when I first sat down, I was just overwhelmed. I don't think any of us ever dreamed it would turn out this well."
Opus 41, as the new organ is called, was built by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders in Virginia and installed at the college earlier this year. Most remarkably, the organ is tuned to a temperament system developed by Goshen alumnus Bradley Lehman. He based the system on his study of Bach manuscripts and believes it is the tuning Johann Sebastian Bach and his family used.
George Taylor and John Boody were at the dedication and received a heartening applause from the crowd.
"Thank you all for the opportunity you have given us to practice our craft," Taylor said.
The audience also showed special affection for Goshen College alumnus Calvin High and his wife, Janet, who donated the funds to have the organ built.
For the dedication, the chairs in recital hall had been turned around so the audience was facing the organ. The 24-foot instrument, with its gleaming array of pipes, towered in the balcony above each speaker at the podium below. It's an instrument that is expected to outlast not only those who attended the ceremony but also their children and even their grandchildren.
"We don't build an organ for a single generation," explained Ryan Albashian, organ builder with Taylor & Boody. "We build an organ for many generations."
Those in the first generation who gathered Sunday welcomed Opus 41 by singing the hymn "How Clear is our Vocation, Lord." They were led by Mary K. Oyer, professor emeritus of music at Goshen College, and accompanied by the organ.
Thogersen closed the dedication with a performance of a toccata by Johann Ludwig Krebs.
After hearing the rich, dark sound of the new organ, Calvin High expressed the sentiment of many in the audience. "Long live Opus 41," he exclaimed to applause.
Contact Marilyn Odendahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.