One of the most important — but most underappreciated, in my opinion — cultural assets in Wichita is the Marcussen organ at Wichita State University and Wiedemann Recital Hall, which houses the organ.
It’s not only the organ and recital hall, but the people who have been in charge of WSU’s organ program and the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series, which brings in accomplished concert organists from around the world for a series of five or so recitals each year.
It was WSU organ professor Robert Town who had the vision for a grand concert organ at WSU, and it was he who did the fund-raising necessary for such a project. The result was a recital hall and an organ built by the distinguished 200-year-old Danish firm Marcussen and Son. The WSU organ was the firm’s first in North America. Its first concert was in October 1986.
In 2006 Town retired. WSU was very fortunate to recruit Lynne Davis, a native of Michigan who had an accomplished music career in France, to come to Wichita and assume the duties of running the university’s organ program. Professor Davis has interjected a great deal of energy into the organ program at WSU, as far as its public face goes.
In particular, last year she started the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series of recitals. These short events are a fine way to become acquainted with the organ and its music without making a major time commitment.
(I should mention that the music you’ll hear at these recitals is usually far removed from what most people are accustomed to hearing in church.)
Dates for Wednesdays at Wiedemann are (in 2009) September 2, October 7, November 4, December 2, (in 2010) January 27, March 3, March 31, and April 28. For all dates, the starting time is 5:30 pm. The recitals are billed as lasting just 30 minutes, but fortunately for attendees, they usually last a little longer. Admission is free.
For the Rie Bloomfield series, events are (in 2009) Brian Campbell of Lawrence on October 13, Anna Myeong of Lawrence on November 10, (in 2010) Michael Bauer of Lawrence on February 2, and Ludger Lohmann of Stuttgart, Germany on March 23. These recitals start at 7:30 pm and have a small admission charge.
In addition, on February 16, 2010 at 7:30 pm, Professor Davis will perform a faculty recital.