Celebrating Organ Builder Ernest M. Skinner (1866-1960) This year, 2016, marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of organ builder Ernest M. Skinner. The Diapason magazine, Joyce Robinson, editor and Stephen Schnurr, editor-at-large, sponsored a “Sesquicentennial Conference” in conjunction with three AGO chapters (North Shore, Chicago, and Fox Valley) and the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of OHS on Sunday/Monday, April 24-25 in Evanston.
The First Congregational Church was the site of events on Monday, April 25. North Shore Chapter member David Lornson and Pastor Ann Rosewall were gracious and welcoming hosts to the 50-60 conference attendees. Andrew Schaeffer and David Jonies played recitals on the 1927 3-manual organ, Skinner’s “Opus 616,” in the beautiful high-ceilinged and light-filled sanctuary. (See photo.) Stephen Schnurr and Joyce Robinson presented lectures on “Skinner in Chicago” and “Skinner and The Diapason” in the chapel, another beautiful space and a perfect gathering place for learning about Ernest M. Skinner. Stephen emphasized the trust Skinner had in his artisans; many instruments were installed in Chicago within a short period of years. Joyce shared Skinner’s many contributions to The Diapason over the decades, including his autobiography (requested by the editor on the occasion of Skinner’s 85th birthday) and his many ads: “Faith without works is dead. The same condition applies to theory without ears!”
On Monday afternoon conference attendees had the opportunity to try the organs at St. Luke’s and/or The Music Institute of Chicago. MIC is the home of a 3-manual Skinner organ, the oldest in Illinois, installed in 1914, his “Opus 208.” North Shore member Jim Brown played a recital of music by Widor, Demessieux, Brahms, and Bach to demonstrate the organ at the Music Institute and spoke about its restoration. (See photo.)
Thanks to all who contributed to and attended the “Ernest M. Skinner Sesquicentennial Conference” on April 24-25 in Evanston!
Christine Kraemer, Secretary