ROCK HILL, S.C. — When world-famous musicians want to play on an amazing organ, they look no further than Winthrop University’s restored David Bancroft Johnson Memorial Organ.
Princeton University Organist Eric Plutz spent the summer of 2012 recording his new pro organo CD, “French Trilogy,” in Byrnes Auditorium on the famed instrument. Plutz fell in love with the instrument when he played a recital at Winthrop.
The 4-manual organ is an original made by G. Donald Harrison, who is considered to have created some of the finest and largest pipe organs in the nation during his time as tonal director with the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company in the early 1900s.
Winthrop’s organ, signed by Harrison himself, is nearly 60 years old and underwent a major restoration by Orgues Letourneau that lasted for several years. In a new video promoting the release of his CD, Plutz plays several opuses in Byrnes, allowing the organ to speak for itself. One of the opuses, by Camille Saint-Saens, can be heard on his CD.
“It’s been an absolute thrill for many, many organists from around the world who have come here to play recitals, and we are very proud of it,” said David Lowry, professor emeritus. You can watch the video of Plutz and Lowry on Youtube.
The CD is available as item 7255 at the Pro Organo website and at the Winthrop University Bookstore for $17.98. To learn more about the organ visit the Department of Music website.
While the organ's full range of tonal color and dynamics are captured on Plutz's recording, they will also be easily heard when Juilliard-trained organist Christopher Houlihan visits Winthrop for a recital this summer. The performance is set for 5 p.m. July 6. in Byrnes.
Houlihan has been called gifted and dazzling by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, creating his first two CDs when he was at Trinity College in Connecticut performing with the Hartford Symphony. His appearance is sponsored by the Friends of the Conservatory, the Charlotte Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Columbia.
The free cultural event is open to the public.