Pipe organ crawl, recital slated Oct. 4

Will HeadleeSUNY Oswego’s music department and Artswego program will present a pipe organ crawl and recital with organist Will Headlee (pictured) on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

The activities—beginning with a 3 p.m. look at the organ at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, 50 E. Mohawk St. in Oswego—are part of the college’s Arts and Technology series. The crawl and performance are free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required.

After the session in St. Paul’s, attendees will walk across the street to Trinity United Methodist Church to continue to learn the inner workings of one of the world’s oldest musical instruments.

Benjamin Merchant, president of Kerner and Merchant Pipe Organ Builders of East Syracuse, will lead the crawl. He has been building, tuning and maintaining pipe organs and harpsichords for more than 35 years, the last 28 of them as president of Kerner and Merchant.

He is a graduate of SUNY Albany and later attended Syracuse University as a graduate student in musicology. Merchant is an active member of the American Institute of Organ-builders—where through professional exams he has achieved the Colleague level—and currently serves on the national board of directors for the organization. He has taught adjunct courses at Syracuse University on the history of harpsichord building and pipe organ construction. 

Merchant resides in Baldwinsville and maintains more than 120 pipe organs in churches and colleges throughout Central New York, a number of which were built by his firm.

Headlee, a nationally recognized organist, will give a free pipe organ recital at St. Paul’s Church at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4. The program will include works by Marcel Dupre, Gerre Hancock, J.S. Bach, Max Reger, Jean Langlais and Henri Mulet.

Headlee is professor emeritus of organ and university organist emeritus at Syracuse University. Since 1990, he has been organist of Park Central Presbyterian Church. He retired from Syracuse University in 1992 after 36 years of varied academic responsibilities and continuous choir-directing activity, including six seasons with the Hendricks Chapel Choir. 

He has been active in the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society, serving often on convention planning committees for both groups. Headlee has performed for AGO and OHS conventions and for the International Romantic Organ Music Symposia. His degrees are from the University of North Carolina with Jan Philip Schinhan and from Syracuse University with Arthur Poister. 

In March 1999, Raven CDs released the recording “100 Years of Organ Music at Syracuse University,” which features Headlee’s concert celebrating the Crouse College Centennial in 1989 using the 1950 Holtkamp Organ in Crouse Auditorium and the one-manual 1968 Schwenkedel organ owned by SU’s School of Music.

For more information about the events, call the SUNY Oswego music department at 312-2130. Persons with disabilities seeking accommodations to attend this event should contact the music department in advance.

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(Posted: Sep 20, 2006)