May 26 05:34 AM

Beautiful music, unforgettable Sunday

May 12, 2010
Sunday afternoons are sometimes a little long and lonesome but Sunday afternoon May 2nd was enjoyable.

Barb Becker invited me to accompany her to Rochester where the St. Irenaeus Catholic Church on Old Perch Road was presenting a Dedication Recital on their Casavant Freres Organ, Opus 2843, 1965. Barb's son-in-law, Clifford Wilkins is music director there. Her daughter, Kay Ellen and Clifford own the Rochester Conservatory of Music where they both teach. Their sons Jacob and Ben also teach.

The Guest Recitalist was Dr. David Wagner. He is Program Director/Music Host of WRCJ-90.9 FM in Detroit. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan where he studied with Marilyn Mason. That name rang a bell with me. I digress.

One fine autumn Saturday a number of years ago, I took small grandson Scott Brooks to Cass City to attend their Bach Festival. He knew that someday music would be his career as he strummed on his Dad's Davy Crockett guitar, and it came to pass, as he is Band Director of the Middle School Band in Garden City, Kansas. Marilyn Mason was giving an organ recital on a famous older pipe organ in a Cass City Church that day. It was spine-tingling to hear and watch her play on only the foot pedals while hanging onto the organ bench with both hands. Scott really enjoyed that but, when it came time for a lady to sing a solo in her high soprano voice, he whispered to me, "I didn't come here to listen to her screech, let's go eat!"

Back to the Pipe Organ. David K. Wigton of Wigton Pipe Organs Inc. was the "builder" and lives practically in our backyard, on General Squier Rd. He tells us that in 1965 Casavant Freres of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, built the organ for Our Lady Gate of Heaven Church in Detroit. When that church was closed the organ became available and it was recommended that it be installed at St. Irenaeus. Pipe organ projects are very labor-intensive. More than 2300 hours were spent on the project, not including dismantling the organ in Detroit. The organ boasts 1,883 pipes, 27 stops and 34 ranks and to watch and listen to Dr. David Wagner OH MY! and I was given only chopsticks talent. . . .guess there was a reason.

In addition to the organ recital, the Parish Choir, Children's and Youth Choirs, the Rochester Conservatory Children's Choir, Dave Wagner at the Organ and Trumpeter Ted Pethick, with Cliff directing and Kay Ellen singing in the Parish Choir, we were royally treated.

Barb was busy in the 'south overflow' making lemonade and setting out her dozens of cookies she had made and worrying whether she had enough when she saw the huge crowd. All went well and it was a wonderful and huge success.

That is one Sunday afternoon I shall not soon forget.

— Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.
Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
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