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VIDEO: Oberlin alumni gather to celebrate teachers, donated organ


OBERLIN — More than 60 Oberlin Conservatory organ alumni from the past 50 years and teachers will gather this weekend to celebrate the anonymous donation of a reconditioned church organ.

The weekend will kick off today with the dedication of Peace Community Church’s new organ in honor of David S. Boe, professor emeritus of organ and former dean of the conservatory, and his wife and Oberlin activist, Sigrid Boe.

The Revs. Mary and Steve Hammond of Peace Community Church said the organ is reinvigorating the church with its beautiful music.

“It’s astounding,” Mary Hammond said. “Every time, you hear new things, and the acoustics of the church are really wonderful.”

Steve Hammond said the church had been using a piano for services because its circa-1860s organ was in bad shape.

The old organ had been moved to the church from a prior location and had fallen on hard times, he said.

A private dedication ceremony tonight coincides with David Boe’s 75th birthday and will feature a concert by former students Mark Brombaugh, class of ’68; James Russell Brown, class of ’75; Jonathan Wessler, class of ’06; William Peterson, class of ’70; organ professor James David Christie, class of ’75; and organ associate professor Jack Mitchener.

Boe joined the faculty in Oberlin in 1962 and became dean of the conservatory in 1976, a position he held until 1990 while continuing to perform and teach.

Boe has appeared in concert and on the radio throughout Europe and the United States, in addition to recording. He also appeared on the TV program “The Wind at One’s Fingertips,” which was broadcast on PBS.

An active member of the Oberlin community, Sigrid Boe was made an honorary trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center. Oberlin College awarded her the Distinguished Community Service Award at commencement in 1994 for her outstanding contributions to the city. She was the 2009 recipient of the “Keep Oberlin Beautiful Award.” She’s involved in raising funds for the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center.

The Peace Community Church organ is a gift from two anonymous former students of David Boe.

The 23-stop, two manual and pedal organ was built in the style of the German organ builder Gottfried Silbermann by the firm of Bozeman-Gibson in 1984 for Stony Brook University. It was later sold to Oberlin alumnus Ronald Gibson, classes of ’82 and ’07, in the late 1990s and was restored in 2004 after a move to Rochester, N.Y. The two new reed stops on the organ were gifts from the Paul Fritts Organ Company in Tacoma, Wash., and the Flentrop Organ Company in Zaandam, the Netherlands.

In addition to the organ dedication, there will be two memorial concerts Saturday morning to pay tribute to two Oberlin organ professors. At 10 a.m. in Warner Concert Hall, there will be a program honoring Professor Emeritus Garth Peacock, class of ’51. At 11 a.m., there will be a program in Finney Chapel for Professor Emeritus Fenner Douglass, who died in 2008.


  • What: A free concert, open to the public, featuring performances by Oberlin students on the new organ
  • When: 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Peace Community Church, 44 E. Lorain St., Oberlin

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

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