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ETHS concert to mark 50th birthday of organ

When ETHS holds its Spring Choral Concert, showcasing the breadth of student talent in the school’s choral program, it will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school’s refurbished Barnes organ.

Housed in the Auditorium, the organ was designed, built and donated to ETHS in 1957-58 by Dr. William H. Barnes, who graduated from ETHS in 1910. He supervised the construction and installation of the organ, which is a composite of a number of excellent organs. Valued at $40,000 (in 1958), the organ, according to Dr. Barnes at the time, “is a thoroughbred with mongrel antecedents.”

As described in the 1958 ETHS annual report, the organ is enclosed in two expression chambers. There is an unenclosed section playable from the top manual with a large chorus dispason mixture. It is double-decked to a height of 30-feet above the floor level. The tonal scheme is planned so the organ can be used to accompany large choruses, to fill in and augment the orchestra when it is used for accompaniment, and to support and sustain audience singing when needed.

Dr. Barnes, who built and consulted on 400 organs throughout the United States, was the leading authority on organ construction and tonal design for decades. A Harvard graduate with a doctorate in music, he was also known locally as the organist and choirmaster of First Baptist Church. He died in 1980 at age 87.

Tickets for the concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, are $2 for adults, $1 for students, and free to senior citizens and Boosters Club ticket holders. They will be available at the door. Parking is best in the lot on Dodge Ave. directly across from the Auditorium entrance.

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