“To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
HIBBING – The “King of Instruments” can he heard on the Iron Range each summer thanks to a program called Organs in Revue. Organs in Revue began in 1984 by Hibbing piano teacher and organist Claribel “Trox” Hamilton. Trox gathered community arts supporters—Allen Higgins, Barbara French, Leona Peterson, Mary Rowe, Carol Lind and Vicki Gornick—to incorporate the non-profit Organs in Revue Foundation, Inc., in 1989.
For over three decades, organ recitals have been performed by regional organists as a summer organ recital series. The program honors Hamilton’s memory and encourages people to learn the art of the organ by offering the Claribel Hamilton Organ Scholarship program.
Recitals are performed on pipe organs at various churches and locations in the area. The most notable organ used is in the historical Hibbing High School auditorium. The Barton pipe organ, in the 1,800-seat Hibbing High School Auditorium, is one of only two still existing in the United States. Purchased from the Chicago Vaudeville Theater for $26,000 in 1920, the Barton pipe organ is a main feature of the Hibbing High School (HHS) auditorium.
With about 1,950 pipes varying in size from one-inch to 16-feet in height, the organ can play any orchestra instrument, except the violin, but includes bird whistles, tom-toms, xylophones and tambourines.
Organs in Revue founder Vicki Gornick said, “Anyone who loves music, who loves hearing the king of instruments or who is interested in pipe organs and how they work can listen to beautiful music at a recital.”
Nine recitals were scheduled this summer, including a variety program. The recitals are free and open to the public. Often lunch is served (cost of $7) by church social groups following the recital. Recitals are performed each Wednesday (with the exception July 4) as 12 p.m., June through mid-August. Donations are accepted and used to support the Claribel Hamilton Organ Scholarship program.
To recital audiences, Nadine Berg, Organs in Revue board member says, “Anyone who loves music will thoroughly enjoy the selections chosen by the organists.”
Each organist selects the music they will perform. Organists from the Arrowhead region are selected by the Organs in Revue board. Most of the organists are members of the American Guild of Organists, Arrowhead Chapter. Among its members, Vicki Gornick, Jason Branham, Dr. Justin Rubin and Rachel Kresha perform with Organs in Revue.
A variety of organists and their repertoires have been a hallmark of the series. The quality and proficiency each organist showcases keeps audiences returning year after year and we’re very grateful that they do. One such organist exemplifies the expertise each organist brings to Organs in Revue. Dr. Justin Rubin is professor of music and chair of the Compositions and Theory Program at UMD. He has recorded numerous, critically-acclaimed CDs and has performed internationally. His compositions have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minnesota Sinfonia, as well as numerous chamber ensembles throughout the United States and the world.
On occasion, the organization will schedule special concerts and events to further exhibit the variety in organ performance. Volodymyr Koshuba, a Ukrainian concert organist, has performed twice in Hibbing at Blessed Sacrament Catholic church as a special guest artist concert. Koshuba studied organ with the famous French organist, Marcel Dupre. He has recorded solo and with his daughter, Viktoriya Koshuba. Koshuba has been the official pianist of the Kiev State Philharmonic and chief organist of the Kiev Concert Hall of Organ and Chamber Music.
Another special concert was presented by MPR. The Morning Show presented a free, live region-wide broadcast from the stage of the Hibbing High School auditorium. The Morning Show featured its regular commentators and musical guest, Connie Evingson, the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, the LaPlant Family Trio (from Grand Rapids) and organist Vicki Gornick.
Each Organs in Revue summer recital series includes a variety program. Variety programs feature local choral ensembles, piano solos and duets, flute soloists, vocal solos, duets and sextets. This summer, the variety program includes hand bells, a vocal ensemble and a brass ensemble.
The recital series is summed up by Roy Berg, Organs in Revue board member: “It is important that these wonderful instruments are heard and played. The organists bring musically challenging pieces not normally heard in a church service. Sounds that fill our souls with musical richness.”
You can enjoy organ music in its infinite variety each week on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams,” broadcast on Sunday mornings beginning at 6 a.m. on Classical Minnesota Public Radio (WIRR 90.5 FM), or online at www.pipedreams.org.
Organs in Revue welcomes all to enjoy the king of instruments. Follow Organs in Revue on Facebook.
Jan Carey lives in Hibbing, MN. She is Organs in Revue president.
About Organs in Revue
For 35-years, the following organists have given their time and talent to Organs in Revue: Velda Bell, Alan Berg, Jan Bilden, Sam Black, Jason Branham, Vicki Gornick, Tom Hamilton, Sarah Hammer, Parker Hinnenkamp, Rev. Erik Holleqaue, Jackie Holmstrom, Janet Ronnback Jennings, Emily Jester, Rachel Kresha, William Percy, Lanae Ronchetti, Carlton Rossing, Kate Rudberg, Karen Sande, Jane Sharding, Amy Szumal and Kristen Weikum.
Vicki Gornick has performed in every Organs in Revue series.
The Organs in Revue 35th Summer Recital Series schedule is as follows:
• Wednesday, July 11, at 12 p.m. with organist Lanae Ronchetti performing at St. James Episcopal Church in Hibbing. No lunch will be served.
• Wednesday, July 18, at 12 p.m. with organist Jan Bilden performing at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Hibbing. A lunch will follow with a $7 charge.
• Wednesday, July 25, at 12 p.m. with organist Karen Sande & Friends performing at First Lutheran Church in Hibbing. A lunch will follow with a $7 charge.
• Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 12 p.m. with organist Tom Hamilton performing at First Presbyterian Church in Hibbing. A lunch will follow with a $7 charge.
• Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 12 p.m. with organist Parker Hinnenkamp performing at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Hibbing. A lunch will follow with a $7 charge.
• Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 12 p.m. with organist Rachel Kresha performing at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Hibbing. A lunch will follow with a $7 charge.
All Summer Recital Series concerts are free and open to the public; however, donations are accepted to Claribel Hamilton Organ Scholarship Fund. The performances last approximately 30 minutes.
The Claribel Hamilton Organ Scholarship gives monetary awards to individuals seeking private organ lesson at the beginner level and/or to improve proficiency. The average award amount is $150 – $300. Since 1985, there have been 88 scholarship recipients and 60 performers who have received stipends through the scholarship program.