Free Concert on Largest Pipe Organ in Berks County

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in News Feed, RCC Blog | No Comments
Free Concert on Largest Pipe Organ in Berks County

Below is the official press release for this event: 

Accomplished Teen Organist Aaron Patterson Performing at Reading City Church Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

Philadelphia student will play the historic Lehigh organ totaling 4,222 pipes, Berks County’s largest musical instrument

Reading, Pa—Aaron Patterson, 17, Philadelphia, an accomplished organist, child prodigy and frequent performer on the John Wanamaker Building (Macy’s) organ, will present a free concert of organ music at the First City Parish of Reading City Church, 611 Washington St., Reading, on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

Patterson just won first prize in the prestigious High School Division at North America’s Albert Schweitzer 2017 Organ Festival held Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 at Hartford, CT. high school. He was one of only three finalists chosen from about 30 young U.S. organists who entered. He won second prize at Hartford in 2015.

Pastor Vince Donnachie said the young musician will play the historic Opus 30 pipe organ installed by the Lehigh Organ Company in 1986, and originally the Opus R-612 model built by M.P. Moller in 1958. The largest musical instrument in Berks County, the Reading Church electro-mechanical organ has 61 voices and 80 ranks totaling more than 4,200 pipes.

“We are pleased to have a musician of Aaron’s talent performing here for a spectacular concert we hope will be one of many musical events we will offer at First City Parish of RCC, “ said Pastor Donnachie. The former and historic First UCC church was built in 1753 and was recently donated to First City Parish, part of Reading City Church, as part of an endowment.

Patterson has performed at various venues throughout the United States including Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, Rochester’s Christ Episcopal Church and Atlanta’s Peachtree United Methodist Church. He said, “I am looking forward to the honor of playing Bach and other composers on this exceptional instrument before the people of Reading and Berks County in one of the area’s most significant and historic landmarks.”

The three-keyboard Reading organ is very versatile with its six divisions—Great, Swell, Choir, Positiv, Antiphonal and Pedal, and, according to Patterson, is carefully designed for playing organ literature from various historical periods, for use with instrumental ensembles and orchestra and for accompaniment of choral works, oratorios, anthems and solos, as well as congregational singing and liturgy. “It’s sound is quite special and soothing,” said Patterson

Patterson, who is a home-schooled high school senior, currently studies organ with Alan Morrison, one of America’s premier concert organists and the head of the Organ Department at the Curtis Institute of Music. From 2008 to last summer, he studied with Dennis Elwell, Minister of Music at Philadelphia’s Overbrook Presbyterian Church. He also studies piano at the Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, with Dolly Krasnopolsky and plays in a piano trio at Settlement coached by Jean Louise Shook.

Since 2014, Patterson has been organist and choir director at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Northeast Philadelphia and, prior to that held, the same position at All Saints Episcopal Church in the same neighborhood. He is also the recipient of a grant from the Sansom Foundation administered by Friends of the Wanamaker Organ.

He has attended the Philadelphia Young Artists Organ Camp, the Eastman Summer Organ Academy, the Organ Institute at the Oregon Bach Festival, and two Pipe Organ Encounters, working collectively with a most renowned group of the top concert organists in America.

His master classes include those taught by Stephen Tharp, Johann Vexo, Michel Bouvard, Diane Meridith Belcher, John Walker, Thomas Sheehan, Kathleen Scheide, and Lee de Mets.

Pastor Donnachie said the First UCC Foundation run by the Berks Community Foundation will channel funds into programs that benefit children and seniors and reduce hunger in Berks County, including the First UCC Senior Center at St. Peter’s UCC, Whitfield, which has a program to serve meals at the Opportunity House that will continue.

“It is also an honor for us to continue the work of this church founded by German Reformed congregants Conrad Weiser and Isaac Levan, who petitioned Thomas and Richard Penn for the land in 1752. The first log house church was built a year later, was replaced by a stone building in 1761 and finally by a brick church in 1832, which underwent major renovations in 1875 and is basically the church of today. From this one church, was planted new church congregations around the Reading area, including St James in West Reading and Hopewell in Reading, which are both now a part of Reading City Church as well.

“During the 19th century’s Gilded Age when Reading was a prosperous center of manufacturing, First UCC had a membership of about 1,000. More recently, the aging congregation dropped to under 100 members, and they generously decided to donate the church to RCC,” Donnachie explained.

First City Parish of RCC is located on the corner of Washington & Reed Streets in Reading, PA. Parking is free on Sundays on streets. Parking vouchers will be given at event for parking garages 1/2 block from church building. The concert and refreshments are free. 

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