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Concert celebrates organ renovation

By Staff | Oct 10, 2008

LaDonna Bergeson and Dr. Richard Lepird stand beside the console of the newly rebuilt Wurlitzer organ at Estherville Lutheran Church. A concert will be held 2 p.m. Sunday to rededicate the organ which has been at the church since 1941.

This Sunday Estherville Lutheran Church at 208 N. Eighth St. will hold a concert to rededicate the renovation of the church’s Wurlitzer pipe organ.

Glenn Henriksen will be featured organist in the concert which will also feature the Many Voices Choir. The program begins at 2 p.m. and concludes with Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Ron Knutson of Milford, who sang as a boy soprano at the original dedication of the organ in 1942, will be a featured singer with the Many Voices Choir.

Scott Brunsvold will head up a brass ensemble which will also be featured.

The day’s events begin with the church service at 8:30 a.m. The Rev. Roy Hendrickson, former Estherville Lutheran Church pastor now from Phoenix and Albert Lea, Minn., will conduct the morning sermon and benediction. Former Estherville Lutheran Rev. Kermit Rye, now of Sioux Falls, S.D., will conduct the morning liturgy.

A coffee will be held at 9:30 a.m. after the morning service when Dr. Richard Lepird, who chaired the organ restoration project fund drive, will show a video of the manufacture of the “Mighty Wurlitzer” as it was termed in its day.

“The program we have planned for Sunday will be spectacular,” Lepird said. Lepird said 29 area congregations have been invited, including all those from Estherville.

Another former church pastor attending the afternoon concert will be Ted Makkestad, now of Cedar Falls, who will attend with his daughter, Martha. Former organists will also be special guests.

“For the people who can’t make it they can watch it,” said LaDonna Bergeson, congregation president. Both the 8:30 a.m. church service and 2 p.m. program will be broadcast locally on channel 3. “You will get a better concert if you come here,” Bergeson said.

With a $70,000 cost of restoring the organ, $65,000 has been raised to date. Fundraising began with a $10,000 family memorial.

“Instead of letting those funds sit, they were put to work,” said Lepird.

Bergeson said many congregation members pitched in for the project.

“A lot of people gave money just because they were interested in this,” Bergeson said. “I think people are just excited about this.”

“I tell you this is exciting. It’s a wonderful experience to be able to share a piece of antiquity that’s got some real value,” Lepird said. “It’s a project of excitement for the congregation.”

The organ, manufactured in 1929, was originally played at the Sun Theatre in York, Neb., where it provided musical accompaniment to silent films. The organ was reinstalled at Estherville Lutheran in 1941.

A freewill offering will be taken at Sunday’s concert to help with the cost of organ restoration.

Lepird said the public is invited to share in any and all events Sunday.