First Presbyterian Church Ypsilanti Concert

Last Sunday, April 15, 2012, I traveled to the First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI for a pipe organ concert. My friend, Arwana from church, drove along with me as she also enjoys organ music. According to their website, the church was built in the mid 1857 and remodeled in 1899. The front entrances have grand wooden doors. Inside, the crown modeling is magnificent along with the beautiful stained glass windows. The pews are wooden (but have cushions) with detailed carvings on the pew ends. The pews also have a slight curve to them.

The concert was put on by the Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival and featured students of Dr. James Kibbie from the University of Michigan. The program was design was interesting as four students performed one piece each in the first half of the program. Then after intermission five students (the same four as first half of program plus one more) each played one  of the five movements of Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony VI in G Minor.  This symphony is bold, powerful, and captivating

Overall, the program was very enjoyable and the students preformed very well.  Unlike me, these students have been playing for many years with most starting on piano and/or organ at a young age. And although students, several are already successful organists holding position with churches and performing recitals.

John Woolsey played Free Fantasia on “O Zion, Haste” and “How Firm a Foundation”  by Willian Bolcom as his stand alone piece. This piece left me feeling a bit disconcerted and I wondered if this was the composer’s intent and if I was the only one that felt this way!

The third movement – Intermezzo – of Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony VI in G Minor was performed by memory by Mathew Dempsey. He was the only student to play a piece from memory during the program.

Below is a photo of the organ and console. There are several pictures of the organ from when it was rededicated in on 2009 after being refurbished on the church’s photo page.

Pipe Organ at First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti, MI
Giving organ music a chance
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Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

4 thoughts on “First Presbyterian Church Ypsilanti Concert”

  1. Hi Heidi,
    I played this organ in the fall of 2012. It was pipe organ #59 and Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor was #60. The organ visit was hosted by Colin Knapp, U of M sophomore. He took piano from me as a child before he started learning the pipe organ. I’m wondering if Colin played in the concert you saw. I know he studies with Dr. Kibbie. Small organ world.

    • Hi Ellen,

      How very interesting that you gave Colin piano lessons. I read the posts about the Ann Arbor organs that you played on your blog. Colin did play at this concert! I keep the programs from most recitals/concerts that I attend and looked it up.



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