New Flentrop uplifts the organ program at the School of Music

November 28 2018

The School of Music proudly announces the addition of a new, custom-built practice pipe organ from renowned Dutch organ maker Flentrop Orgelbouw. Housed in the Schreiner Organ Studio in Gardner Hall, the new Flentrop Organ provides organ students, faculty, and visiting artists the highest quality practice experience.

While the School of Music installed the beautiful Lively-Fulcher performance pipe organ in 2000, organists still needed to warm up or practice on an electric organ or piano. For an organist, practicing on a piano is like “a violinist having to warm-up with a guitar,” explains organist and former Dean of the Utah Chapter of the American Guild of Organists Harry Cross.

The new Flentrop organ is the only one in the Intermountain West. The Rolls Royce of organ manufacturers, the Flentrop organ took two years to design and was built by hand in Zandaam, Netherlands. It arrived in three crates by boat and took two weeks to assemble and voice by a Flentrop specialist.

The organ was paid by a generous donation by Jim Michie of the James R. and Nanette S. Michie Foundation. A lifelong lover of organ music, Jim explains, “I love the resonance, strength, and variety of tones an organ provides.” Cross noticed the need for a new organ a decade ago while attending an event at David Gardner Hall. He was taken aback to discover organ students had no organ to practice on.

“Teaching a student to drive a car with an automatic transmission won’t help much when asked to drive a car with a manual transmission,” Harry explains.

The Flentrop organ is designed to complement the Libby organ—it mirrors its layout, has three manuals, a full pedalboard and was designed for the small room that houses it. The School of Music offers two bachelor and master degrees in organ performance. But unlike other universities with similar degrees, the School of Music only owned a performance organ. The addition of the Flentrop allows students to more accurately practice technique and articulation. It also serves as a warm-up organ for guest organists.

“Being an all-Steinway school for piano students, the U will now provide that same superiority for organ students,” said Cross. The University of Utah joins other great performance venues and organ programs across the country in providing the highest quality instrument for our students.