[Pacific Lutheran Scene]
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Builder completes magnificent Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Organ

B Y   L I N D A   E L L I O T T ,   E D I T O R

More mouths have fallen quietly agape in the presence of the new Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Organ than at any other physical sight in the university's history.
      It's not hard to see why. The magnificent baroque pipe organ literally towers over the southern end of Lagerquist Concert Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center. Protruding from its 20-plus foot-wide alcove placed 10 feet off the ground, the organ's massive pipes and intricate carvings shoot another 35 feet into the air. It is truly a breathtaking sight.
      The organ, named for the Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Foundation, is also a feast for the ears. Built by world-renowned organ builder and Parkland native Paul Fritts, it rivals the best organs in Europe. As a testament to its excellence, an international organ symposium will be held here in April.
      One of the best features of the organ is the hall in which it was built. Fritts himself marvels at the outstanding acoustics and flawless recording space the hall allows.
      "I will probably never get another room this ideal for a pipe organ in my entire career," he said.
      Installation of the tracker (all-mechanical) organ began in January 1997 and was completed over the summer 1998. The organ boasts 54 stops (differences in tone that can be mixed or matched), and approximately 80 ranks of pipes - that equals 3,809 individually voiced pipes. More than 25,000 hours of work went into the instrument by the builder's crew.
      The artist who hand-carved the pipe shades, Judy Fritts (the builder's sister), also put in thousands of hours.
      Though incredible to look at, it is the organ's sound that captivates the listener's heart and soul.
      "How does one find sufficient words to describe the variety, magnitude and quality of sound which Paul Fritts 'voiced' into the pipes of the Fuchs organ?" asked David Dahl, professor of music and university organist since 1969.
      "If the listeners' ears hear what I hear, then we can speak of kaleidoscopic colors, a dynamic range from a gentle whisper to a brilliant power, all of which is achieved in the organ builder's number one goal – 'maximum blend.'"
      David Dahl is the featured performer at the dedicatory concerts, which repeat in their entirety Nov. 6, 7 and 8. Alumni and friends are invited to attend the Friday or Sunday performances. The concerts are free but tickets are required. Call 253-535-7602 for reservations. Call early, we're expecting crowds!

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