Ringerwole Organ Series begins at Dordt

Lauren Bird-Staff Writer

The Ringerwole Organ Series began Friday, Oct. 11 with a full day of organ-related events, including a presentation on the history of Dordt’s organ, a master class with organist Douglas Cleveland, and a concert at night.

The five-year organ series was established by Joan Ringerwole, professor of music emerita and founder of Dordt’s organ program, for the purpose of bringing nationally acclaimed organists to Dordt. Cleveland was the performer in this series. However, Ringerwole hopes that the series will not be limited to five.

“I hope it will become an on-going thing at Dordt,” said Ringerwole. “This organ is a treasure for this area. I hope this series will promote the organ in this community.”

Douglas Cleveland, the first organist in this series, has played at Dordt twice in the past.

“The music department decided to bring him back,” said Ringerwole. “He has a stunning background.”

A sixth generation Washingtonian, Cleveland has studied at the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and Oxford University. He first gained international prominence when he won first prize in the 1994 American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Dallas.

Cleveland has performed in many different venues such as the Westminster Abbey, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and the Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore as well as several festivals, including the Oregon Bach Festival, the Moscow International Organ Festival, and the International Organ Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Cleveland said he has played in every state except North Dakota.

In addition to Cleveland’s concert, students were able to attend a class on the history of Dordt’s organ and a master class in which three Dordt students performed.

Ivory Niewenhuis, a junior who played for Cleveland in the master class, said she really enjoyed the experience.

“He gave a new perspective on the music.  We can read all the notes, but the musicality is what needs to come out,” Niewenhuis said.

In the class on the history of Dordt’s organ, students heard from Ringerwole and Caroll Hanson, the Casavant organ tuner and technician. Together, Ringerwole and Hanson planned for the organ and in 1979, it was dedicated at Dordt.

Mandy Faber, a senior organ student, attended these classes. She said that she believes the Dordt organ deserves the recognition it receives through the organ series.

“It’s the biggest and loudest instrument around here,” said Faber. “Students see the organ in chapel, but many of them don’t know how complex and powerful it really is. Cleveland’s concert is a good demonstration of what the organ can do.”

Ringerwole was excited for what the organ series can bring to the Dordt community.

“I’d like for this organ to be heard,” said Ringerwole. “It’s a (2) million dollar organ and it deserves to be heard. The woman who helped fund it would be pleased to know it’s being used for the glory of God.”

Ringerwole was also excited for what the organ series can do for students.

“Through these concerts, students get to hear musical literature they may never get to hear again as well as Mr. Cleveland will do,” said Ringerwole.


With additional reporting by Anna Visser

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