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Video of Ken Cowan playing Overture to the Meistersinger on the pipe organ

Ken Cowan is one of the leading organist in the world today. He is a true virtuoso of the organ, down to earth and a pleasure to work with.

In 1998, Ken Cowan made a CD with JAV Recordings at Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit while he was still at Yale studying with Thomas Murray. He learned the Flying Dutchman Overture for that recording. Ken used the church’s landmark Skinner Organ to its fullest extent, it is some of the finest transcription playing – you can download it from iTunes by clicking here. Violinist, Lisa Shihoten met us in Detroit and recorded Ciacona for Violin & Continuo by Tomaso Antonio Vitali, an extraordinary work. Stuart Forster, who was soon to record his transcription of Dvorak’s New World Symphony on another Skinner, helped by listening and turning pages. That was about 15 years ago, where does the time go?

When Ken Cowan and Lisa Shihoten learned I was coordinating the restoration of the pipe organ at Our Lady of Refuge they sponsored pipes in the organ. Ken said he would record the Overture to the Meistersinger on the restored organ. In May of 2014 he flew to Brooklyn from Houston. Ken’s playing left everyone at the parish astonished with the sounds he could get from a 25-rank pipe organ. Ken thank you so much for coming and recording this pipe organ.

Today Our Lady of Refuge is a very active and well attended Catholic Church in Brooklyn but does not have the financial wealth it once had. The restoration of the pipe organ could not be a high priority in the parish’s budget, compared to other programs like the parish’s food pantry. (The food pantry provides 3 days of uncooked food for almost 400 families every week.) Fr. Michael Perry, the Pastor of Our Lady of Refuge, gave the go ahead to raise money for this organ restoration. We used social media, email and blogs to show people in the organ world what our plan was. Photos, audio recordings and videos updates showed the donors the project and they kept giving money.

Many of the people who donated money to this project have never been to the church, Brooklyn or even New York. This video is for them, they can see and hear what they helped to fund. Thank you donors you did good. The parish has a organ recital series. JAV Recordings has been sponsoring the recital series to date, but additional assistance is needed. Would you help? – click here for ways you can help.

Many people said this could not be done. They said this organ was not worth restoring since it was some old Kilgen. They were wrong on all counts.


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