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College celebrates 35th anniversary of chapel’s organ dedication

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (October 31, 2002) – Since its construction in 1967, various musical sounds have filled the auditorium of Seeger Memorial Chapel at Milligan College. But only one sound and one source has been a constant — the sound of the college’s 46-rank Schantz organ, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with a special concert next Friday, Nov. 8, featuring international performing organist Robert Burns King.

The massive organ, with pipes spreading across the back of the main stage area and concealed behind screened panels, was installed in 1967 by the world-famous Orrville, Ohio-based Schantz Organ Company, which has been building the instruments since 1873. Founded by A. J. Tschantz, the company is the oldest and largest American pipe organ builder still under management of the founding family.

Milligan’s Schantz organ cost approximately $60,000 in 1967 and was custom-made. Each of the organ’s pipes, which number in the hundreds, is actually an individual, hand made, windblown instrument, designed, crafted and voiced especially for Seeger Chapel, explained Milligan music professor and organist Dr. David Runner.

The organ has 46 “ranks,” or separate sets, of pipes. It produces 93 notes and has “wind chests” of almost a foot deep, which Runner said provide an ample volume of air “so that unsteadiness is impossible and no matter how loud or soft you play, the wind and sound is steady. This organ is very well built.”

The pipes are made from a range of materials, including tin, lead, zinc and many varieties of wood. The largest pipe in the organ is more than 16 feet tall. By contrast the smallest pipes are only the size of a pencil.

The college made its selection of the Schantz organ in 1964 and selected the instrument to support the college’s growing music program, as well as to feature special music presentations and concerts for the region. The organ took almost three years to build, assemble, and then install in the brand new chapel.

Since it’s installation, renowned organists such as Gerre Hancock, Russell Saunders and Marilyn Keiser have brought the organ’s pipes to life.

Runner, a renowned organist himself, knows the organ’s pipes, pedals and keys well. He has been the college organist since 1972. Nearly every commencement service and special program in the 30 years since have featured Runner at the organ’s console.

To commemorate the organ’s 35th anniversary, the Northeast Tennessee-Southwest Virginia Chapter of The American Guild of Organists and Milligan College have partnered to feature Robert Burns King in concert. King will perform works by Balbastre, Bach, Bruhns, Durufle, Guilmant, Handel, Kuchar and Langlais.

A native of South Carolina, King has performed recitals in Italy, Germany, France, Scotland and Portugal. He is a graduate of Furman University and holds a master’s degree in sacred music from Union Seminary in New York City. Among King’s teachers are Vernon de Tar at the Julliard School of Music in New York. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied with Jean Langlais and Maurice Durufle in France and with Michael Schneider in Germany.

King has also performed with the North Carolina Symphony and at regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists. He will be presented in concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in the summer of 2003. King is currently organist-choirmaster of First Presbyterian Church, Burlington, N.C. He also serves as the professor of organ at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and as the university organist of Elon University in Elon, N.C.

The Friday, Nov. 8, anniversary concert will be held in Seeger Chapel at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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