But beginning this month, the 6,025-pipe Norton Memorial Organ will no longer play second fiddle to the Cleveland Orchestra. As the grand finale to the concert hall's $36 million renovation project, the instrument has been restored to its original timbre and given a new center-stage home.
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Built for $60,000 by Ernest M. Skinner, renowned master craftsman at the Boston-based Skinner Organ Co., the instrument was dedicated in memory of orchestra benefactors David and Mary Castle Norton and installed above the stage in 1930.
"Nobody understands why that location was chosen," Winner-Smith says. "When the organ was played, the musicians could hear it very well but the audience couldn't. Consequently, it never made an impact, never got rave reviews and wasn't used very much."
That's all about to change, however. The organ will be rededicated during a gala Jan. 6 and will be the star attraction during a series of upcoming concerts. "Audiences are in for an incredible listening experience," promises Winner-Smith.