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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2007

Reed Organ Society marks 25th year with celebration

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
erry Jankowski plays a Reed organ at the church at Wolcott House Museum, as he warms up before performing for a wedding. erry Jankowski plays a Reed organ at the church at Wolcott House Museum, as he warms up before performing for a wedding.
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FAYETTE, Ohio - Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan will be featured players this weekend during an international celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the Reed Organ Society.

Special events are slated in Fayette, about 50 miles west of Toledo, and Hanover, Mich., about 42 miles north of the Fulton County community.

The Reed Organ Society has 300 members from across the United States as well as Europe, Japan, and Canada, and about 75 of them have registered for the event, said Terry Jankowski of Milan, Mich., chairman of the planning committee.

The organization was founded 25 years ago by "a couple people who were collectors of these reed instruments. They wanted to connect with other people who collected and valued them," said Don Glasgow of Archbold, a retired minister who has played the organ all of his life.

Locally, he is known as the master artist who pumped new life into a rare three-keyboard organ. The massive musical instrument, now on exhibit in the Fayette Opera House, was rescued from the trash pile in Toledo a few years ago. Only five or six such organs exist anywhere in the world today, according to his research.

Ohio and Michigan are important places to Reed Organ Society members because "this is where a lot of reed organs were manufactured," Mr. Glasgow said.

Reed organs force air through metal reeds to make music. Stops control which reeds are opened, and the air is controlled by a series of foot pedals. Some people refer to them as pump organs, but the official name is reed organs.

At first, reed organs were made in the East, but then a lot of companies moved into more central states, he said.

Terry Jankowski warms up before performing for a wedding. Terry Jankowski warms up before performing for a wedding.
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Reed organs were made in Chicago, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor, Cleveland, and Toledo, among other places in the Midwest. There was a small manufacturer in Clyde, Ohio, too, Mr. Glasgow noted.

More than 100 reed organs are on display at the Lee Conklin Antique Reed Organ Museum in Hanover where Mr. Glasgow and other experts lead restoration workshops.

There will be workshops at the museum tomorrow night, and on Saturday, there will be a sing-along, dinner, and 7:30 p.m. concert.

Mr. Glasgow, who has been a member of the Reed Organ Society "almost from the beginning," predicted that the celebration weekend is "going to be a great time. I'm looking forward to it."

Several "great organists" will perform, including Taihei Sato of Japan who is one of the world's best, said Mr. Glasgow.

"A good organist can get some wonderful sounds out of those instruments," said Mr. Glasgow who predicted a packed house for the reed organ concert at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Fayette Opera House, which seats about 200 people. The public is welcome to attend; tickets will be available at the door.

There are four reed organs on exhibit at the opera house, and the instruments are featured during special events such as the Glasgow Reed Organ Concert Series.

Reed organs no longer are made in the United States, said Mr. Jankowski, who grew up in Toledo and graduated from Rogers High School in 1980.

When electronic organs became popular in the early 1960s, people lost interest in the reed organs and manufacturers stopped making them.

Most reed organs were made from 1890 to 1920, said Mr. Jankowski, who became interested in the Reed Organ Society about a dozen years ago.

He said he was always fascinated by the antique organs, and after learning about Hanover, he went there and was hooked. "I was amazed at the number of instruments in the museum," he said.

Today, Mr. Jankowski, a professional church musician, has seven reed organs. On Sundays, he plays a pipe organ, but he enjoys playing reed organs, including the one at the old church, which is part of the Wolcott House Museum Complex in Maumee.

This weekend at the museum in Hanover, the Reed Organ Society will gather together as many organists as possible for what is called an "organ sing."

"We might have 20 to 30 organs all playing at the same time," said Mr. Jankowski.

Because the organs aren't all perfectly tuned, the music might not sound pretty, he said, but "we will make a joyful noise."

Contact Janet Romaker at: jromaker@theblade.com,

or 419-724-6006.



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