Museum Once Again Filled with Sounds of McMyler Memorial Organ

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Museum Once Again Filled with Sounds of McMyler Memorial Organ

All of the greats have a legend that grows up around them. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s McMyler organ is no exception. According to G. Paul Cox, former associate director for music at the museum, “One morning in 1918, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s first director, Frederic A. Whiting, overheard the sounds of a canary echoing in the museum’s Interior Garden Court. So moved was he by the bird’s sublime sound that he began plans immediately to bring music to the museum.” The song of a single canary sparked the museum’s first musical initiatives. However, it was the McMyler endowment that ensured the organ would forever be a permanent fixture of the institution. The endowment was a gift given in memory of P.J. McMyler by his family in 1920, and it made possible the installation of a pipe organ. The gift included an allowance for the musical programming to be endowed in perpetuity. Originally located in the museum’s Interior Garden Court, where the canary first sang, the organ now resides in Gartner Auditorium and is newly refurbished thanks to a gift from the Musart Society. The reinstallation, cleaning, and re-regulation of the organ’s 4,000 pipes, 79.5 ranks, and 62 stops by the Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland marks the last milestone in the completion of the auditorium’s celebrated renovation. To mark the organ’s return, the museum’s VIVA! & Gala performing arts series will open its 2010-11 season with a free concert featuring David Higgs, one of America’s leading concert organists, in the first museum organ recital in more than five years. Higgs has traveled across the country and abroad, inaugurating many important instruments in locations including St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, and the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. Higgs is the chair of the organ department at the Eastman School of Music. The concert takes place Friday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. More information is available through the museum’s box office at 216-421-7350 or online. This event is co-sponsored by the Cleveland chapter of the American Guild of Organists.