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Passion for Pipes: Robert Carsner’s love of music — and pipe organs — led to the Organ Crawl

ROBERT CARSNER, organizer of the biennial Organ Crawl in The Dalles, poses March 19 with the visible pipes of the 1907 Kilgen Organ at St. Peter’s Landmark.

Photo by Kathy Ursprung
ROBERT CARSNER, organizer of the biennial Organ Crawl in The Dalles, poses March 19 with the visible pipes of the 1907 Kilgen Organ at St. Peter’s Landmark.



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ROBERT CARSNER, organizer of the biennial Organ Crawl in The Dalles, poses March 19 with the visible pipes of the 1907 Kilgen Organ at St. Peter’s Landmark.

Organ Crawl April 7

Residents of the Mid-Columbia will have an opportunity to experience the fourth biennial Organ Crawl, a series of five performances on the historic pipe organs of The Dalles on Sunday, April 7, from 2 to 5 p.m.

This year’s Crawl begins with a performance by Caroline Homer at St. Peter’s Landmark honoring the wedding of her son with selections from the ceremony. When this instrument was built, the Kilgen Organ Company had one of the best reputations for building organs in the country.

From St. Peter’s Landmark, attendees will proceed to the UCC Congregational Church to enjoy a performance by Cheryl Ortega, which will feature selections by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Saint-Saens. Built in 1954, by the Wics Organ Company of Illinois, the instrument originally was housed in The First Church of Christ Scientist in Hood River. When the Hood River congregation moved, the organ was given to the UCC Congregational Church with installation the only expense. The organ was first used at its present location in late 2002.

The third performance will be at the First Church of Christ Scientist by E.J. Howe including pieces by Bach and Pachelbel. Put into place in 1933, the Reuter is a four-rank instrument with 21 stops. It is housed in a single chamber with swell shutters. Restoration work was done in 2002 and 2003 and more is planned.

The fourth stop on the Crawl is Zion Lutheran Church for a performance by Robert Tupper. Dedicated in February 1976, the organ built by Lawrence Phelps and Associates is a straight-rank organ boasting a total of 1,080 pipes. Phelps was a trained musician and engineer and was responsible for the design of over 650 organs while working with the Casavant Organ Company. One of the largest and most innovative of his organs is the 4 manual suspended organ in the chapel of Lewis and Clark college in Portland.

The Crawl will be completed with a performance by Susan Ticknor at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and will include pieces by Near and Pethel. A special performance is also planned on the piano by Diana Beterbide. When a new St. Paul’s church was built, the organ was moved, rebuilt and expanded. The work was completed in time for the Service of Dedication in October 1962.

Following the performances, the event will conclude with a gathering in the fellowship hall for cookies provided by the Bakitchen.

The event is free to the public and will be followed by a reception in the fellowship hall of St. Pauls.

Robert Carsner has such a passion for music he decided to make a gift of it...

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