U.Va. Plans Events to Mark Centennial of Old Cabell Hall Organ

March 10, 2008
March 10, 2008 — On Saturday, March 29, the McIntire Department of Music will host two events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the installation of the E.M. Skinner organ in Old Cabell Hall. An afternoon symposium will feature talks by Barbara Owen, Laurence Libin and Donald Loach. An evening recital by organist Ken Cowan of Westminster Choir College will showcase the instrument, with emphasis on music from the time of its installation in 1906-07.

 Cowan, a professor of organ, is a renowned expert on music for Skinner organs and one of the most sought-after organists in North America. He performs solo recitals across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has won numerous awards, including first prizes at the Royal Canadian College of Organists National Competition and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music National Competition. The American Organist writes, "Mr. Cowan's technical mastery, expressivity, musicality, and sheer brilliance thrilled the convention audience."

Cowan will play a program that will focus on music of the period, including the sorts of transcriptions that organists frequently played in the early 20th century.

The afternoon symposium, which is free and begins at 2 p.m. in Minor Hall Auditorium, and will focus on "E.M. Skinner, the Old Cabell Organ, and Issues of Preservation.".

Libin is emeritus research curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where for many years he directed the Department of Musical Instruments. The author of a great many articles, exhibition catalogs and books on historical instruments, he currently serves as president of the Organ Historical Society. Libin's talk is entitled "Cautionary Notes: Reconciling Preservation and Function."

Owen, also a past president of the Organ Historical Society, is perhaps the today's foremost expert on the history of American organs. The author of many books and articles on organs in America, she will present "A Biographical Sketch of Ernest M. Skinner."

Loach is emeritus professor of music at the University of Virginia, where he directed the choral program for many years and oversaw the major renovation of the Skinner organ in the early 1980s. Loach will offer an oral history of U.Va.'s Skinner organ, titled "Behind Those Pipes: Cabell Hall and Events in the Life of its Skinner Organ."

Old Cabell Hall on the Central Grounds of the University Virginia boasts the oldest surviving Skinner organ in original condition and in its original site. The three-manual instrument was installed less than a decade after the construction of Old Cabell Hall.

Generous support for this event has been provided by Katherine Brooks and the Brooks Fund.

For information about these or other events offered by the McIntire Department of Music, call the Cabell Hall Box Office at (434) 924-3984.