Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Terrific Organist at the Mighty Wurlitzer

There are organs, and then there are organs. And there are organists, and then there are other organists! I think I may have heard one of the best yesterday evening as several of my Bible study friends and I went to the Grand Rapids Public Museum where the mighty Wurlitzer organ is housed. Wow! What an organ! If you live in the Grand Rapids area and have never heard it, you will want to do that sometime soon.

The organ was built in 1928. By the 1950s, it had fallen into disrepair. Thankfully, someone realized its value, and had it restored. It made its way to Grand Rapids in the mid-1970s, where it was used in a pizza parlor until 1991. It was moved to the Meijer Theater in the museum and dedicated there on November 14, 1995, where it proudly remains to this day.

The organist we heard last night is Jelani Eddington, a Hoosier by birth, as am I. At an early age, he decided that he wished to be a professional musician. That is not too surprising, since his mother was a professional music teacher of many years, and his grandmother was a piano instructor for many years. Is musical ability inherited or learned? In either case, Jelani acquired it. He began piano lessons at the age of four, much younger than most students are when they begin studying the piano.

I would have enjoyed the concert even more if Mr. Eddington had played more carols, but he did two medleys of Christmas carols. One of them included a wonderful rendition of one of my favorites, "O Holy Night." Among other songs he played were Sleigh Ride, Brazilian Sleigh Ride, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and many, many others. It all added up to make for a delightful evening.

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