News December 2003

Felix Hell Plays Two Benefit Concerts for the Pipe Organ Foundation

Felix Hell of Germany recently played two benefit concerts for the Pipe Organ Foundation. This is a most remarkable young man, and some background on him is as follows:

About Felix Hell

Felix was born on September 14, 1985, in Frankenthal/Pfalz, Germany. He took his first piano lesson at the age of seven, after having heard the C-Major Prelude, WTK-I, of J.S.Bach. He played it from memory after a few days listening to it and observing the piano player.

Only eight months later, September 1993, he took his first organ lesson. Already in spring 1994, just 7 months after his first organ lesson, he participated in the Federal German competition for young musicians "Jugend musiziert", and received two First Prizes in organ playing. While still eight years old, he played his first Roman Catholic High Mass.

Studying with some of the most notable musicians in Germany, Felix continued to win many prizes in organ playing and in piano playing.

In September 1999 Felix Hell enrolled at the Julliard School, New York, where he had been awarded a merit-based full tuition scholarship.

Since September 2001 Felix has been studying, again under full tuition scholarship, at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Dr. John Weaver, until his retirement in September 2002. After a short period of studying with Alan Morrison, Felix's current organ teachers are Martin Jean (Yale University) and Don Sutherland (Peabody Conservatory).

From the very beginning Felix maintained a very busy recital schedule. His first solo appearance in Germany was in March 1994, and his first solo organ concert outside Germany was in August 1994 in the Great Hall of the Saratov Conservatory, Russia. He was still 8 years of age at that time. Meanwhile Felix Hell has performed more than 300 recitals in Germany and abroad: Canada, Australia, Russia, Korea, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Iceland, Norway, Jamaica, and the USA, where he had given more than 200 concerts in 35 states.

Concerts Played

The first concert Felix played for the Foundation was at the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue Friday, September 12, 7:30 PM. The second was at Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University, on Sunday, September 14, at 3 PM. This last concert was co-sponsored by the Department of Music at PLU. The programs which Felix played were as follows:

First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Prelude and Fugue, E flat Major, BWV 552
- Trio Sonata No. 1, E flat Major, BMV 525
Allegro moderato
- Prelude and Fugue, D Major, BWV 532

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Sonata No. 4, B Major, op 65
Allegro con brio
Andante religioso
Allegro maestoso e vivace

Franz Liszt (1839-1901)
- Consolation, D flat Major
- Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H


Marcel Dupré (1886 - 1971)
Prelude and Fugue, B Major, op. 7r

Felix-Alexandre Guilmant (1837 - 1911)
Sonata No. 1, D Minor, op. 42
Introduction et Allegro

Lagerquist Hall
Pacific Lutheran University


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Prelude, G Major, BWV 568
- "Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ," BMV 639
- Fantasy and Fugue, G Minor, BWV 542
- "Schmuecke dich o liebe Seele" (Leipzig Chorale), BWV 532
- Trio Sonata No. 5, C Major, BWV 529
- Prelude and Fugue, D Major, BWV 532


Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Sonata No. 1, F Minor, op. 65
Allegro moderato e serioso
Andante Recitativo
Allegro assai vivace

Enjott Schneider (1950)
Toccata "Schlafes Bruder" (1994)

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Sonata No. 6, F Minor, op. 65
"Vater Unser im Himmelreich"

Wofgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Fantasy, F Minor, KV 608

Approximately 250-300 people attended each concert, and these people were highly enthusiastic about his playing, giving him standing ovations at both before the intermission and at the end of both concerts. At the end of the second concert, a reception was held at the Fritts organ company where the organ at PLU was made. There, birthday cake was shared by all as September 14 was Felix's 18th birthday.

So successful were these concerts that the Pipe Organ Foundation has already started to lay plans for Felix to come back to the Pacific Northwest. The dates for these events will be announced as soon as they are available.

Renovation in Progress on Two Wicks Organs

Last year, two Wicks organs were given to the Foundation, one by Mrs. Marian Parrish of Ft. Bragg, California, and the other by Merala and Ken Tobias of Port Angeles, Washington. Each of these was about 10 ranks of pipes, and both are in need of some work. It appears that the best way to utilize these gifts is to combine them into a single instrument. This is readily doable since both organs were made in the 1930s by the Wicks company. A final decision has not been made about where to place the resulting instrument, but contacts have been made with two churches that are possible placements for it.

Note: A special need which the Foundation has at this time is to update the switching system and combination action of this organ from electromechanical with moving parts to a solid state system. Unless this is done, the organ will not play reliably. The cost of such as system, however, is approximately $3,000. These funds are needed now in order to proceed with the rebuilding of this organ. Contributions at this point in time to meet this need would be greatly appreciated. All contributions are tax deductible.

Foundation Members Do Low Cost Maintenance Work

Churches in remote rural areas of Idaho, Montana and eastern Washington face special challenges in keeping their pipe organs playing. In the typical case, the population of these areas has shrunk dramatically over the years, most young people have left in order to find work, and the churches are attended by small numbers of mostly retired people with limited incomes. Board member Clint Meadway has been assisted by Carl Dodrill in going to these congregations and offering tuning and repair services at reduced rates, without which the work unquestionably would not be done at all. If you know of a situation in which such services are needed, please be in touch with the Foundation.

Clint tunes the Moller at First Presbyterian in Anaconda, MT

Carl solves façade pipe rattles at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Anaconda

The mission of the Pipe Organ Foundation is to charitably promote the preservation, placement, and playing of pipe organs

Getting Involved

You are invited to be involved in the Pipe Organ Foundation. Volunteers are needed to do bench work in the Foundation facilities on Mercer Island. The work is repetitive but not strenuous and it is in a pleasant environment. Contact Carl to inquire. Financial contributions are especially welcome at this time as they would make possible the projects outlined above plus others in the planning stage. Contact us with any questions you may have.