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Allen Organ is dedicated at Little White Church

  • The organist was Robert Ormesher of Salem Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.
    The organist was Robert Ormesher of Salem Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.
Published November 12. 2011 09:01AM

Robert Ormesher came from the church where he is music director, Salem Lutheran in Bethlehem, to play a dedicatory concert for the new organ at the Little White Church in Palmerton. The dedication was held Nov. 6. Palmerton Area Historical Society owns the church.

Ormesher said he has been playing organ since he was seven and began playing for the Sunday school in a western Pennsylvania church at nine. He was invited to the church by Peter Kern, a friend and student.

Ormesher said he loves the historical aspects of the Little White Church.

He taught music in the Bethlehem Area School District and conducts various vocal and instrumental ensembles including the Beethoven choruses.

Ormesher started the first "Messiah" singalongs in 1976 and conducted it with orchestra, choruses and soloists every year for the next 30 years. He gives private music lessons in voice, piano and organ.

Kern said he hoped when people left they would feel uplifted. The new Allen organ was being played by a professional organist.

He said it is fitting that the dedication is at the beginning of the Palmerton 100th anniversary celebration and that it was appropriate to have a short organ concert. From a program list, he challenged the audience to recognize the tune that would mean it was time for a break. The song was "Simple Gifts."

Kern said he knows Ormesher for 31 years. "You'll have to excuse him. He's not used to playing an organ of this magnitude. It fills the front of the church."

Many of the tunes were well known: among them, My Favorite Things, Send in the Clowns and Danny Boy - but are not commonly heard on an organ. "Just drink them in," said Kern, and the music gloriously filled the church.

Betsy Burnhauser, society secretary, spoke during the break about how the Historical Society received the organ. She had often visited Dorothy Kegel, a society member, and admired the organ. On one visit she was surprised when the reply to the admiration was a question, "Do you want it?"

Burnhauser said she didn't but the Little White Church could use it. It had been purchased by Kegel's husband Carl to use in his business, J.S. Ziegler's Funeral Home, but was never used there.

With the death of her husband, who had occasionally used the organ, she no longer felt the piano would be utilized. "It's just a piece of furniture," said Kegel.

Burnhauser said the church organist, Carol Thomas, had to pump really hard to get it loud enough to be heard throughout the church. The old pump organ has been relegated to a spot in the corner of the church where it will be retained for its historical value.

Allen Organ still had records of the original purchase with model and serial number.

The company moved the organ from the Kegel home. When it was tested, it was found to be well tuned.

Kegel's son and daughter, their spouses and grandchildren attended the dedication.

Burnhauser said, "If you want to be part of history come to the ecumenical service and you can say you were there the first time the organ was used." That service will be Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

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