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Organ Dedication Honors Emeritus Professor David S. Boe and Oberlin activist Sigrid Boe

Mar 01, 2011

Over 60 Oberlin organ alumni from the past 50 years will travel to Oberlin in March for a weekend of concerts, memorials, and dedications. The weekend will kick off on Friday, March 11, with the dedication of Peace Community Church’s new organ in honor of Emeritus Professor of Organ and former Dean of the Conservatory David S. Boe and his wife and Oberlin activist, Sigrid Boe. The private dedication ceremony, which coincides with Mr. Boe’s 75th birthday, will feature a concert by former students Mark Brombaugh ‘68, James Russell Brown ’75, Jonathan Wessler ’06, William Peterson ’70, Professor of Organ James David Christie ‘75, and Associate Professor of Organ Jack Mitchener. A service of dedication and concert will take place at the church Sunday March 13 at 3:00 p.m. It will feature performances by Oberlin students on the new organ, and is free and open to the general public.

David Boe joined the faculty at Oberlin in 1962. He was appointed Associate Dean in 1974 and became Dean of the Conservatory in 1976, a position he held until mid-1990 while continuing to perform and teach. He earned a B.A. degree magna cum laude from St. Olaf College and was a University Fellow at Syracuse University, where he studied organ with Arthur Poister and earned an M. Mus. degree. On a Fulbright grant he continued his studies with Helmut Walcha at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. Boe has appeared in concert and on the radio throughout Europe and the United States and has recorded on the Gasparo and Veritas labels. He appeared on the television program The Wind at One's Fingertips, broadcast nationally on PBS.

Sigrid Boe is one of Oberlin’s most active citizens. She was made an honorary Trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center after serving for ten years faithfully as a trustee. The Oberlin News Tribune named her  “Oberlinian of the Year” and Oberlin College awarded her the Distinguished Community Service Award at Commencement 1994 for her outstanding contributions to the city. She was the 2009 recipient of the “Keep Oberlin Beautiful Award” for her vision and devotion to Oberlin's downtown landscape, its recreational sites and its green spaces. Sigrid Boe is presently very involved in raising funds to establish the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center.

The Peace Community Church organ is a gift of two anonymous donors who are former students of Boe. The 23 stop, two manual and pedal organ was built in the style of the German organ builder, Gottfried Silbermann (1683-1753) by the firm of Bozeman-Gibson in 1984 as their Opus 24 for the State University of New York, Stony Brook. It was later sold to Oberlin alumnus Ronald Gibson, ’82 and ’07, in the late 1990s and was restored in 2004 after a move to Rochester, NY.  The two new reed stops on the organ were generous gifts from the Paul Fritts Organ Company, Tacoma, WA, and the Flentrop Organ Company, Zaandam, the Netherlands.

In addition to the organ dedication, there will be two memorial concerts on the morning of Saturday, March 12 to pay tribute to two Oberlin organ professors. At 10 a.m. in Warner Concert Hall there will be a program honoring Professor Emeritus Garth Peacock ‘51, who passed away in 2007. At 11 a.m., there will be a program in Finney Chapel for Professor Emeritus Fenner Douglass ’42 and ’01 (hc), who passed away in 2008. Both concerts feature performances by alumni who studied with the two professors. They are free and open to the public.

“Garth Peacock was a wonderful musician and a real character,” said Professor of Organ James David Christie. “He devoted his entire life to Oberlin and was an extraordinary teacher. Fenner Douglass was one of the most distinguished organ professors in the 20th century. He had such great vision and Oberlin was and always will be a leader in the organ world because of him. In addition to being an outstanding organ and harpsichord teacher, he was an musicologist, scholar and a beloved friend of Oberlin.”


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