Deputy Blogger Lieutenant Parks tuning in!
Recently I was privileged to visit the Methuen Memorial Music Hall. This is really a fascinating place. The organ inside was built by Walcker, which initially made me think it was the find of a lifetime. Yes, I would be approximately that excited to find an original instrument built by this great German Romantic builder here in the United States. However, it was restored and tonally altered to a great degree by the E.M. Skinner company. Traces of its heritage are still audible in the darker tone of the principals, which the photographs on the site will show have a noticeably small cutup. I am left with a strong desire to try some Liszt on it.
Despite not being the find of a lifetime, this instrument is pretty neat, and the hall that contains it is positively gorgeous inside. Outside, next to a river that runs right by the parking lot, several castle-like outbuildings were visible, along the lines of miniature towers and parapets. When I asked a member of the foundation that runs the hall about them, he explained that it "was all Searles doing".
Edward F. Searles (pronounced SEE - ruhls) was responsible for building the hall, the organ, and countless other things around the area and region which I did not get to see. He was an independently wealthy architect and interior designer, who happened to marry enough money to become fabulously wealthy. I cannot begrudge a man of such taste any wealth. I wish there were people like him around today building organs, even if he did originally intend the music hall for his own private use.
All of this was courtesy of the invitation of Brandon Santini, who played Eugene Thayer's Sonata II. This piece was constructed out of national themes, highly appropriate for a concert on the 4th of July. I played a minor role in this performance, turning the pages. Of special note is that Eugene Thayer, an American organist and composer, actually played the same instrument at the inaugural concert when it was installed in the Boston Music Hall. I know this because they have a framed original copy of the program.
All in all, a pretty cool place, to which I plan to return.
Deputy Blogger out!
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