Welcome to the Free Pipe Organ Recital at the First Church in Los Angeles

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For this Sunday morning, I’d like to take you to a very old church with an exceptionally large organ, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s Los Angeles’ oldest Protestant church in continuous operation, being founded in 1867.

Every Thursday at 12:10pm, the church opens its doors for a free 30 minute pipe organ recital.

Its exterior is as bold and omnipresent as its studious pews, magnificent stained glass windows and thunderous organ.

In fact, it’s the largest church pipe organ in the world.

Did I say pipes?

From the moment I stepped into the church, I was surrounded by pipes; large ones, short ones, tall ones, and tiny ones. In fact, there are over 20,000 pipes in total.

This organ is the largest church organ in the world and the third largest of all the organs in the world, with the largest, being The Wanamaker Organ, which is located in Pennsylvania, and the second largest Organ is in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Source: The World’s Largest Pipe Organs

The manufacturer of this Church’s organ was M. P. Moller, the same manufacturer of the organ at the United States Military Academy at WestPoint.

In fact, there seems to be some discrepancy—and a touch of controversy–as to which church or who can lay claim to which institution has the largest organ; as both of them claim the honor.

Controversy at the Church? Hardly, but who knew?

Be that as it may, my vote is for the First Congregational Church plus, the gentleman who I noted above agrees with me.

Due to economic circumstances, the M.P. Moller Pipe Organ Company closed its doors in 1992, but fortunately for the organ community, four of the Moller employees grouped together and started a new company, the Hagerstown Organ Company.

As I was watching the organist, S. Wayne Foster, I kept having mental images of watching a dancer or high-wire artist, because while playing the various songs, his body was perched static on his bench, but his hands and feet energetically but smoothly were using every key and pedal.

After the performance, I asked the Mr. Foster about the keys and pedals. He informed me that with the higher notes, the higher keyboard on the console is used. Indeed with this particular organ, most of the higher notes are keys and the lower notes are pedals.

The knobs on the right and left panels are called “stops,” with each stop used to turn on a set of pipes.  If no stops are turned on, pressing a key on the keyboard will not make a sound.

Although I didn’t record or videotape today’s Organ Recital, I did find a remarkable video recorded on a different day at the same First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It provides a musical explanation of stops.

I encourage everybody to just sit back and listen—it’s quite an experience:

I hope you enjoyed today’s Free Pipe Organ Recital.

If you live in LA—or are planning to visit—definitely make sure to keep Thursday at 12:10pm free to attend the special lunchtime Recital at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s definitely the place to be.

After the free pipe organ concert, Macarthur Park is a short walk for a picture perfect picnic lunch.

I’d like to give a shout out to Will over at [sic], who first introduced me to the free recital and had a rather unique experience during the free recital he attended.

I hope you have a great Sunday planned Travelin’ Local, and don’t forget to shoot some Spring into 2009 pictures to show and feature for the first weekend of Spring.

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8 comments to Welcome to the Free Pipe Organ Recital at the First Church in Los Angeles

  1. Tess The Bold Life
    March 22nd, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Isn’t life wonderful when you can get great music for free and share a part of history.

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Are You Bold Enough To Forgive Yourself & Others?

  2. Lance
    March 22nd, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Lisa,
    It’s all so grand! And the music was fun to listen to - it’s not often that I hear “real” organ music…

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  3. Lisa's Chaos
    March 22nd, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Oh wow! Wow! Wow! I can just imagine how awesome to see in person!!

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Macro Monday Cars

  4. LisaNewton
    March 23rd, 2009 at 2:12 am

    @ Tess Adding a little music to life is definitely a good thing. And being free makes it even better.

    @ Lance I hadn’t heard a real pipe organ in years. I loved it.

    @ Lisa’s Chaos Awesome is a good word for it………………:)

  5. Will Campbell
    March 23rd, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Ha! Thanks for the link to my first visit there. It won’t be my last, I just won’t leave my stuff unattended again!

    Will Campbell’s last blog post..A Blessed Workaround

  6. LisaNewton
    March 23rd, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    @ Will As soon as I entered the church, I thought about your picture of where your audio recorder was, and then where it wasn’t.

  7. keith
    March 23rd, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Hey I taught there (pilgrim school) 20 years and never got such a great tour of the organ as you did. Thanks for taking the time to film there and share it.

  8. LisaNewton
    March 23rd, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    @ Keith I’m planning on going back there. I loved the concert…………………:)

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