New Concert Series at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle

Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle is proud to present a new concert series “Music at 9th and Stewart” which will feature performers of various genres, and for the first time in several years, solo recitals on the church’s beautiful two-manual organ installed by Fritts and Co in 1987 as their Opus 6.  On Sunday November 18 at 4 p.m., distinguished Tacoma organist Mark Brombaugh will present a splendidly varied program featuring music spanning the Renaissance and baroque through to modern times.

The organ is the first that Paul Fritts conceived and built on his own after the departure of his original business partner Ralph Richards.  It incorporates ideas from an organ study trip that he made to Germany and the Netherlands, the first of many that he has made through the years.

The company’s original proposal for a tall baroque style case for the organ was rejected by the church committee as being too ornate, so Fritts turned to a simpler design with a low, wide case.  The arrangement of the pipes of the various divisions inside the case was modeled after one of the old organs that Fritts encountered on his European study tour, with the Hauptwerk in the center front flanked by the divided Positiv, and the pedal division in the rear.  The case itself was originally envisioned as a sort of decorative screen behind the altar (the altar was subsequently moved after the sanctuary was remodelled). The pipes were also inspired by early organs, and were made in the Fritts shop after those of Arp Schnitger, who is considered to be one of the finest early baroque organ builders.  The organ features Fritts’ first venture into using lighter wind pressures as well as voicing for a more instrumental type of sound. This gives the organ a wonderful variety of color for individual stops and better blending between the stops when they are played together in various combinations.

Recently, Fritts and Co have reworked the tone-generating parts of the reed pipes throughout the organ. This contributes to better speech, better tuning stability and a more attractive tone. Part of this work included the total replacement of the 8’ Schalmei with German oboe-sounding pipes.

The church once had one of the largest congregations in Seattle, and boasted a very active music program when the organ was installed more than thirty years ago.  This new concert series is made possible by a gift to the congregation. In acknowledgement of this gift, and in keeping with the church’s commitment to social outreach, a portion of the proceeds supports nonprofit relief of immigrants, as well as families experiencing food- and housing-insecurity. Nonprofit beneficiaries are Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, The Hope Center, The Church Council of Greater Seattle, and Mary’s Place.

This season’s concert series will also present organist Dana Robinson in recital on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 4 p.m.  Other performances will feature the a capella group Les Chanterelles (November 10), the Beggar Boys in a holiday concert (December 15), and the Grammy award winning early music ensemble Blue Heron (March 22, 2019).

Tickets are available here.

Una Hwang is indebted to Paul Fritts for input to the content of this article.

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