Indiana University

News Release

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010

IU Jacobs School of Music prepares to dedicate Seward organ

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Editor's Note: The Seward Organ Dedication Concerts April 30-May 2 are sold out. The Jacobs School of Music and WFIU have announced the following media events, which will allow audiences from the community, region, and elsewhere to enjoy the concerts: a live video stream of the concert on Friday, April 30 from 7:50 p.m. and live broadcast of the concert on WFIU on Sunday, May 2 from 3:50 p.m.

Instrument built by world-renowned C. B. Fisk, Inc.

April 1, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the first time in its history, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music has an organ of international distinction to equal the outstanding caliber of its organ faculty and students. The school is preparing a celebration at the end of the 2010 spring semester.

A gala concert dedicating the new Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward Organ, planned for Friday, April 30, at 8 p.m. in Auer Hall, will be repeated on Saturday, May 1, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, May 2, at 4 p.m. All performances are free but ticketed; tickets are no longer available.

The first concert will be live video-streamed by the Jacobs School of Music Department of Recording Arts and a large portion of the final concert will be live-broadcast on WFIU Public Radio. The WFIU radio/Web broadcast will be introduced by Michael Barone, host of nationally syndicated radio program "Pipedreams."

Recitalists for the concert include Professor Janette Fishell, chair of the Jacobs School's Organ Department, Professor Christopher Young, Visiting Associate Professor Jeffrey Smith, Jacobs Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and Chancellor's Professor Emerita Marilyn Keiser.

The organ is being named for Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward, M.D., whose gift made the project possible. The instrument boasts nearly 4,000 pipes, each painstakingly voiced by master organ builders C. B. Fisk, Inc. It will also be known as the C. B. Fisk, Op. 135.

"We arrive at this moment in our school's history with a sense of excitement, gratitude and expectation," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School of Music. "Our faculty -- past and present -- the Seward family and the Fisk Company, have placed within reach of our students an instrument capable of great breadth in an acoustically perfected home. Now, in a major performance venue, the Jacobs School has an organ with a distinctive voice. When it speaks, its expression will fall upon deeply appreciative and eager ears."

"Building an instrument for Indiana University allows C. B. Fisk the chance to influence generations of organists to know what difference a sensitive action, beautiful voicing, a creative tonal design and mechanical reliability can make," said Steven Dieck, president of C. B. Fisk, Inc. "The caliber of the Jacobs School of Music faculty and students assures us that a bright light will shine on our work and, together, we will learn through the coming years. It is a special pleasure for me, a native of Indiana, to have a Fisk organ at this esteemed institution."

The organ will be housed in Auer Hall, which was renovated and technically upgraded to create not only an ideal acoustic setting for the instrument but also an extremely versatile space to meet the school's broad range of needs for teaching and performance.

"The artistry and craftsmanship of Fisk and the significant acoustical improvements by Dana Kirkegaard have produced something quite special -- an organ that has power and poetry in equal measure," said Fishell, "And that combination can't help but thrill audience and performer alike."

The organ was a necessity, as the Jacobs School houses one of the nation's largest and most respected organ departments in the country. With some 45 students and faculty members drawn from the best organists in the world, the department needed an organ that could do justice both to their talents and to a musical repertoire that spans many distinct regions and eras.

"The completion of our Fisk organ ushers in a new era for the organ department at the Jacobs School of Music, one that builds on the strong foundation laid by outstanding professors and students but firmly faces forward to twenty-first-century innovations," said Fishell.

The Seward organ will play a pivotal pedagogical role in the mission of training students to be performers, teachers and church musicians of international standing. To that end, it has been designed to provide a variety of colors needed to play a wide range of repertoire and historic styles; this is coupled to a sophisticated and sensitive key action, which is essential to the development of technical and musical control.

Fisk project manager and vice president Gregory Bover said the company's goal was to provide faculty and students an instrument that can handle 400 years of repertoire with authenticity and authority. "This is mainly a teaching instrument, thus it needs to have an eclectic variety of voices from different eras and styles," he said. "It is also a recital instrument, so it has to speak boldly to the room."

According to Fishell, the configuration of the organ in a gallery large enough to accommodate a choir or instrumental ensemble will foster regular opportunities to collaborate with other musicians, and it will provide an ideal space and resource to train students as they hone their abilities in accompanying, choral conducting and the art of liturgical improvisation.

For more information about the Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward Organ, including photos, see

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