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23 November 2009

The new organ at Highland Park United Methodist Church may yet have some undiscovered tricks up its sleeve (or its massive 32-foot Contra Diapason pipes that loom over the west transept). But Bradley Hunter Welch, the church’s organist and director of music and arts, certainly worked all manner of magic on it in a solo recital Sunday evening [22 November].

Climaxes in the Sonata eroica of the Belgian composer Joseph Jongen and Franz Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” piled on great cement loads of sound. Horizontally mounted trumpet stops blazed from both the front and the back of the church. […]

But there were also bubbly little flutes and piquant reeds in Max Drischner’s perky Variations on “O Run, Ye Shepherds”. Virgil Fox’s extravagant “orchestration” of the Bach chorale Come, Sweetest Death began at the threshold of audibility, laid on lush string stops and built up a massive surge of wind before a seamless crescendo disappeared into nothing.

Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News

8 November 2009

After 35 years with one of Christendom’s homeliest organs, both visually and aurally, Highland Park United Methodist Church has a new and much more appealing instrument.

Sadly, David R. Davidson, the church’s late Director of Music and Arts, didn’t live to attend the Sunday-evening recital dedicating the organ he campaigned for. But the big new instrument, from the Iowa firm of Lynn Dobson, memorializes Davidson in generous, almost extravagant, sounds and expression. It was brilliantly demonstrated by organist Ken Cowan. […]

Cowan was at his most dazzling in transcriptions of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Sounds shifted, swelled and diminished in apparently limitless variety, all while Cowan dispatched dizzying arrays of notes.

His registrational nuances were no less amazing in the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue of Healey Willan, Seth Bingham’s bubbly Roulade and Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Voices of the Night. The encore was George Thalben-Ball’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini, its virtuoso fireworks and shifting chords played entirely by the feet until the final variation.

Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News

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27 September 2009

The 50th anniversary of Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection was celebrated in a recital by VU organ faculty Lorraine Brugh, John Bernthal and John Brian George that recreated the original organ dedication program by E. Power Biggs. Dr. Martin Jean, Professor of Organ at Yale University and former Valparaiso University Organist played a recital on 11 October as part of a year-long series of events celebrating the anniversary. Our firm rebuilt and completed the Reddel Memorial Organ in 1996.

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25 September 2009

The evening program — Berlioz’s huge “Resurrexit” and even more huge Te Deum and Saint-Saëns’s grand “Organ” Symphony — played to Mr. Dutoit’s sweet spot: the point at which his superb handling of French idioms intersects with his fondness for big, rattling pieces. The Saint-Saëns benefited greatly from the magnificent sonority of Verizon Hall’s Dobson pipe organ, as it did in 2006, when the organ was new (in a lesser performance conducted by Christoph Eschenbach). Michael Stairs played it strongly here and in the Te Deum, where the organ also looms large.

5 September 2009

We mourn the passing of our friend David R. Davidson, who today exchanged an earthly life of musical service for a heavenly one. David was Director of Music and Arts at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, the director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, and a sought-after clinician and conductor.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family and to his many friends in Texas and throughout the country.

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23 March - 2 April 2009

John Ourensma and John Panning spent a week and a half at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbus, Indiana, moving our Op. 54 to that church’s new building with the help of a host of volunteers. The project was covered on the front page of the 24 March 2009 issue of The Columbus Republic.

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8 March 2009

Lynn Dobson and John Panning made a presentation about Op. 87 at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas as part of the church’s Meet the Builders program, which also included a piano duo concert featuring HPUMC musicians Chris S. Brunt and Bradley Hunter Welch.

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February 2009

We’ve undertaken some restorative repairs to the 1913 organ built by the Wangerin-Weickhardt Co. of Milwaukee as their Op. 152 for Corning United Methodist Church of Corning, Iowa. The completely original organ has tubular-pneumatic action, and was maintained for many years by church member Homer Snodgrass, the father of organist and teacher Margaret Mueller of Winston-Salem, N.C.

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11 February 2009

One of our long-time cabinetmakers, Lyndon Evans, retired at the end of February. A member of the Dobson crew since 1988, Lynn has been at the center of case construction for 46 pipe organs.

Lynn at work on the impost of Op. 49, 1990.

We celebrated Lynn’s years in Lake City with a lunch at the shop on Wednesday 11 February. We will miss his steady hand and quiet demeanor, which have been an inspiration to all of us.

• • •

2009 is a year of some anniversaries for us, beginning with our company, which was founded by Lynn Dobson in 1974 and so is celebrating its 35th year. A number of members of the Dobson crew also observe employment anniversaries this year: John Ourensma, 10 years; Bill Ayers, 15 years; Bob Savage, 20 years; and John Panning, a quarter-century.

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