Historic Musical Instrument Is Reborn For Special Detroit Concert

The Sacred Music Legacy of Gordon Young

Featuring Celebrated WRCJ Host and Organist David Wagner in collaboration with the MSU Community Music School-Detroit

An historic Detroit pipe organ will breathe new life for the first time in many decades during a special concert presentation titled “The Sacred Musical Legacy of Gordon Young” at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary housed in the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit on March 13 at 7 p.m. Located at 2930 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201.

The event is a musical collaboration between the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) and the MSU Community Music School-Detroit — two Midtown neighbors on Woodward Avenue in Brush Park. The performance will feature Dr. David Wagner, renowned classical musician and radio host for WRCJ-FM, who will perform on the ETS 3,700 pipe Casavant organ, as well as the MSU New Horizons Concert Band led by director Edward Quick.

The concert program will pay tribute to the legacy of celebrated Detroit organist, choirmaster, composer and music pedagogue Gordon Young, who led activities at the First Presbyterian Church from 1964 to 1979. A widely-recognized composer of sacred music, Gordon was a prolific composer for organ.

Concertgoers will also enjoy an exhibition of paintings by artist Timothy Orikri entitled “A Sacred Space in Music.” On display throughout the 124-year old church and seminary, the works will be available for purchase by the public.

Additionally, this concert is the beginning of our weekend festivities celebrating the arrival of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray as the fourth President of Ecumenical Theological Seminary. His inauguration will be the next morning, on Saturday, March 14th at 10:30am in our historic sanctuary.

“I am thrilled to lead Ecumenical Theological Seminary at this vibrant time of Detroit’s renewal and re-imagination. Ecumenical Theological Seminary stands committed to the education of justice-minded individuals and communities in a theological context, believing that the most powerful way to speak toward the betterment of society is through the language of faith,” said Murray.

Gordon Young was born in McPherson, Kansas in 1919. He was educated at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, as well as the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

As both a superb organist and inspiring choral director, he served churches in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma before becoming the organist/choirmaster for the First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, MI. Gordon is renowned for his exceptional contributions to American church music. He died in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, in 1998.

David Wagner is an accomplished concert organist who has performed throughout the United States and Europe. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan. As a classical music broadcaster, Dave Wagner has a national reputation and is heard regularly as the morning/afternoon host on WRCJ in Detroit.

“It will be so wonderful to see this instrument come alive again,” said Wagner, “It’s extraordinary that the leadership at Ecumenical Theological Seminary has restored this priceless instrument for public enjoyment.”

The ETS pipe organ was built in 1965 by Casavant Frères, a Canadian company that has built nearly 4,000 organs across the world. Other significant Casavant organs have been installed in institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Auditorium and St. Paul’s Church in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The MSU Community Music School-Detroit provides music classes for babies through seniors and everyone in between. The MSU New Horizons Concert Band is just one of the adult ensemble programs that everyone can join.

Edward Quick is the award-winning, retired Band Director of the Detroit School of Arts, who is now a sought-after educator and conductor. In addition to works by Gordon Young, the band will perform works by John Philip Sousa, Alfred Reed, Franco Cesarini, and Sigrid Karg-Elert.

The Ecumenical Theological Seminary was established in 1980 to respond to the need for theological education in the Detroit metropolitan area. ETS has been recognized by its colleagues in theological education as uniquely equipped to prepare individuals to meet the challenges of ministry in urban centers.

The First Presbyterian Church building was leased to Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit in 1992, and the distinct red church became the permanent home of the seminary in 2002.

Tickets for “The Sacred Music of Gordon Young” are priced at $30. Tickets for students of all ages are $15. Proceeds will benefit ETS and its many activities. Tickets are available online visit http://www.etseminary.edu. For more information call 313. 831-5200 and speak to Ms. Pamela Johnson at extension 209.