The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington is holding a rededication of its now fully completed Lively-Fulcher Great Organ, which has been in the works for 24 years. Though it had already appeared complete from the outside, until recently, the organ was missing about a third of its pipes. After a successful campaign to raise money for the final phase of the organ installation, the instrument is complete, with all of its 5,100 pipes ready to make music.

The rededication, held on May 10, 2019 at 7:30 p.m, will bring together people who have been involved in various steps of the process, such as the former St. Matthew’s organist and director of music, both of whom worked at the cathedral when the installation process began, and the original builder who has returned to complete the organ.

Paul Hardy, the cathedral’s current organist, and Suzanna Bechamps, the associate organist, will be the main musicians, and the evening will also feature special musical guests Jay Rader, Ronald Stolk, Russell Weismann, and Andrei Pidkivka. 

Pidkivka will begin the evening by playing the flute as guests arrive, because “an organ is like a massive flute,” with the keys that are pressed going directly to the pipe, with the wind causing the instrument to make sound, said Tom Stehle, the cathedral’s director of music ministries. Inside of an organ, “each sound has its own flute,” Stehle explained.“

The concert's organizers decided to start with just a single flute as a way of welcoming the people and reminding them of the origins of the organ,” he said.

As the program begins, the cathedral’s rector, Msgr. Ronald Jameson, will greet the guests, and then there will be a calling forth of the organ sound, as Hardy will play a musical piece beginning softly, and then growing. That will be the first public sounding of the organ, which has been unavailable since June of last year.

The evening will include several French hymns, such as “New Songs of Celebration Render,” played by Ronald Stolk, the current organist at St. Patrick Church in Washington who previously served as the assistant organist at St. Matthew. Stolk is a famous improvisationalist, so he will be taking the hymn and doing an extended improvisation. Musical selections also include “Cantante Domino” by Monteverdi and the taizé chant “Jubilate Deo.”

The cathedral has chosen a French theme for the evening, partially because the type of organ at St. Matthew’s is found in churches all throughout Paris, and partially in response to the recent fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in that city. 

The organ’s re-dedication will be the beginning of a series of 14 other concerts and recitals at the Cathedral, running through June of next year. The service will last for one hour and is open to the public. A free-will offering will be collected. Parking will be available for $5 in the cathedral’s parking lot.