WESTFIELD, NJ – On Sunday, October 16 at 12:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, 125 Elmer St., Westfield, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the installation of its pipe organ with a recital by FCC member and accomplished organist William Rehwinkel .
The pipe organ was installed by Austin Organs Inc. in 1972. It is FCC’s fourth pipe organ and now the oldest in church history, having surpassed its predecessor, designed by MP Möller .
The Austin organ was designed and tested by Frederick Swann, the organist and music director of Riverside Church in New York at the time, and Nicholas Tino, then music director of FCC. Swann described the organ as “one of the finest instruments of its size in America”. It was stated by church leaders at the time that the organ “brings a musical dimension to our worship that is hard to match”.
The organ contains 30 ranks totaling 1,791 individual pipes, as well as the vox humana playing and the chimes, which are retained from the Möller organ and sound at the end of each service.
The recital program performed by Rehwinkel will include the Prelude in G minor by Dietrich Buxtehude, one of the Psalm-Preludes by Herbert Howells, the Prelude in E minor by Nicolaus Bruhns, the Prelude and Fugue in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, Marco Enrico Bossi’s “Ave Maria” and one of Charles V. Stanford’s postludes.
Rehwinkel is an organ student at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He was an organ researcher at Christ Church in Summit and is now an organist at the First Congregational Church of Westfield. In addition to playing, Rehwinkel composes and arranges music for the organ.
“After researching the history of many years on the search for a new organ, I was struck by the great care with which the committee recommended this Austin organ to the congregation, and I reflected on the how the committee’s deliberations and eventual decision have continued to positively affect our musical experience at First Congregational Church so many years later,” Rehwinkel said. “It has increased my appreciation for this organ and its unique features, and I hope the congregation will enjoy it for decades to come.”
Joseph Regan, associate music director for the church for 21 years and acting music director for 18 months, said: “I was delighted to see and hear what this organ is really capable of, and especially to see William grow musically using the instrument. practice, worship and perform over the years.
The concert will follow the 10 a.m. Sunday service. All are welcome to attend both the service and the free concert. Donations for the benefit of the music ministry at the church will be accepted.
For more information, visit fccofwestfield.org or call 908-233-2494.
Photos courtesy of Debra L. Volz