AGO Convention a Big Hit

The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ (KO) in Portland City Hall’s Merrill Auditorium will open its second century on September 27. Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) wanted to make sure that the news of this major event had the widest possible spread. What better way to get this information out than visiting directly with over 2000 organists, musicians and organ lovers from all over the globe at one time and in one place!

FOKO partnered with David E. Wallace and Co. to share a display booth at the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Convention in Boston for a week this past June. We were able to share the history of the Kotzschmar Organ, the progress of the renovation by the Foley-Baker Inc. and spread the word of the up-coming reopening concert and programs to be heard later in the season.

FOKO commissioned me to build “Kotzschmar Jr” (K.J.), who also had a trip to Boston to serve as an ambassador for the AGO Convention and FOKO education programs, thanks in no small part to Convention Coordinator Ray Cornils and Workshops Coordinator Elsa Geskus. K.J. delighted young people at Youth Day on the Saturday prior to the convention at Old South Church and spent the rest of the week in the Copley Place Mall adjacent
to the convention site. introducing the pipe organ to Countless people who had never seen a pipe organ close up — let alone have the opportunity to play one were introduced by a team of young convention “Fellows”, artfully demonstrating and explaining how a pipe organ functions. K.J. made history in one of Boston’s popular retail venues.

At the display booth, FOKO Executive Director Kathleen Grammer and I (former Curator of the KO) greeted convention attendees with all the latest news from Portland. K.J.’s new “cousin”, Wallace and Co’s new continuo organ built by Nick Wallace, while on display for its own debut, filled in for K.J. during discussions of the FOKO education and outreach programs. We also had the good fortune to be located directly across the aisle from Foley-Baker’s display booth. From time to time both booths were simultaneously running KO renovation slide shows. Talk about getting the point across!

During the week we were fortunate to connect with many of the KO’s visiting organists and had the opportunity to hear and greet some of the up and coming “Rising Stars” that may, no doubt, grace the KO with their incredible talents. Friends old and new visited the booth and seemed delighted that the citizens and music community of Portland, Maine cared enough to see that the KO would carry into its second century as fresh and new as it was at the start of its first century.

— David Wallace