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American Guild of Organists Kicks Off Convention with July 1 Concert

Quick Facts

 The concert is 8 p.m. on July 1 in Byrnes Auditorium. It is open to the public.
 The Aeolian Skinner organ was installed in 1955.

Olivier Latry


ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — People come from all over the world to Winthrop University’s Byrnes Auditorium each year to hear the beautiful and unique sound of the David Bancroft Johnson Memorial Organ.

On July 1, world-famous organist Olivier Latry will add his name to the list of those who get to experience the organ that is widely regarded as one of the most valuable and historic instruments in the Southeast.

Winthrop’s Department of Music and the American Guild of Organists invite community members to hear the acclaimed organist perform a special French-themed solo recital, “An Evening With Olivier Latry.” The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Called “one of the brightest stars in the current organ world” with “brilliant technique,” Latry is the titular organist of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and a professor at the Paris Conservatory.

The concert kicks off the American Guild of Organists’ Southeastern Regional Convention, held July 1-4 in Charlotte. More than 300 organ enthusiasts will be bused down to Rock Hill to experience the D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ’s unique and beautiful sound.

The D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ, an Aeolian-Skinner, was installed in 1955. Famed Aeolian-Skinner tonal designer G. Donald Harrison designed the organ from top to bottom. It was the last complete installation one he worked on before he passed away, making it one of very few in the world designed by Harrison.

Other than restoration work completed a few years ago—to convert the organ’s copper wiring to fiber optic—the organ has remained largely untouched, said Donald Rogers, chair of the Department of Music. He called it a “very versatile” instrument that has a French sound that everyone needs to hear.

“It’s very seldom these days you get to hear an organ of this caliber,” said Rogers. “Many churches have electronic organs or praise bands...It’s timeless. The sound of this one is unique. When you sit in Byrnes, the sound just envelopes you.”

For more information contact the Department of Music at 803/323-2255.

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