You don't want to miss this splendid day in Duluth, featuring what many consider the most important indigenous 19th-century pipe organ in Minnesota. But there is the city itself, located on the spectacular North Shore of Lake Superior, which is the world’s largest fresh water lake. Our first stop featuring two instruments by resident organ builder Daniel Jaeckel at his home parish, First Lutheran Church. The astonishing virtuoso Isabelle Demers and one of her prize pupils, Jillian Gardner, will showcase Jaeckel’s Opus 1 (1980) of two manuals and 10 ranks, and his magnum Opus 52 (2011) with three manuals and 72 ranks. Lunch will be served at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, an Egyptian revival hall with lovely woodwork and stained glass, numerous original “scenic backdrops” on its stage, and a 1910 W.W. Kimball organ of two manuals and 20 ranks. After lunch, and an impromptu demonstration by Ms. Demers, we will visit St. Mary Star of the Sea, built in 1905 in the basilica-style with beautiful altar carvings, statues, stained glass windows, and a mechanical action organ of 14 stops ordered from Lyon & Healy in Chicago in 1906. Local soloist David Tryggestad will demonstrate it for us.
Our final afternoon visit will be to the Sacred Heart Music Center, the former first Roman Catholic Cathedral of Duluth, built in 1896. The 1898 A.B. Felgemaker Company organ (Opus 664, with two manuals and 26 ranks) may have been “ordered from a catalog,” but it represents one of those miracles where instrument and room are in perfect harmony and the mundane nature of its purchase and installation belies its high artistic quality. Every stop has its own personality, and all work together in marvelous and memorable ensemble. The importance of this superb instrument, in itself and as a representative of late 19th-century upper Midwestern cultural achievement, cannot be overestimated. This organ (which received OHS Citation #228) will be showcased with period repertoire by Bruce Bengtson, whose program also includes a work commissioned for the Felgemaker’s centenary and featuring a local Native American women’s chorus. This unique score was written in tribute to the parish’s founding priest, Father John Chebul, whose relationship with the native community in Duluth’s early days was particularly friendly. Dinner will be served before our ride back to Saint Paul.