OURENSMA TO PERFORM FOR DOBSON ORGAN ANNIVERSARY
- First Presbyterian Church
- 111 Capital Avenue NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017 United States
In honor of the 25th anniversary of its Dobson Organ, First Presbyterian Church of Battle Creek will be celebrating the special place that organ music plays in worship. A concert presented by the church’s former Minister of Music, the acclaimed organist John Ourensma, will be offered free and open to the public.
Ourensma has been playing in church services regularly since he was eleven years old. He came to the United States in 1961 from the Netherlands. He graduated from Calvin College and went on to receive a Master’s of Music in Church Music and Organ Performance from Northwestern University. He has over 40 years in full-time church music ministry, serving churches in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and Michigan. In each position he was deeply involved with worship planning and the development of congregational singing.
During his 13 years with First Presbyterian, Ourensma directed and accompanied four vocal choirs, a hand bells choir, various instrumental ensembles and provided organ and piano music for all services. In addition to his service to the church, he performed annual recitals for the community, was organist for the Battle Creek Symphony, served on the editorial board of Reformed Worship Magazine, and lectured on the pipe organ for the International Gilmore Keyboard Festival.
After serving First Presbyterian, Ourensma became a voicer and pipemaker for Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd., in Lake City, Iowa. During his time with Dobson he was involved with the design and building of nineteen new pipe organs, including the large new concert hall organ for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia and the new organ for The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles. Currently he serves as Director of Music at Hillsdale First United Methodist Church, in Hillsdale, Michigan. Throughout his career, Ourensma has been called upon to lecture and perform on the organ in the various communities he’s served.
During the 1980’s, mechanical problems began to plague the 1928 Skinner organ installed upon completion of the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary despite the fact that it had undergone some repair work not all that long before. After several organ building companies’ assessments determined it could not be restored reliably from its current condition, the congregation moved to have Dobson Pipe Organ Builders rebuild the organ. The project was undertaken in 1994 with the complete removal of the instrument early that year. A new console was designed and built, all new main windchests were replaced and all existing and new pipes were revoiced and regulated by Dobson. The local newspaper reported on the extensive process that included numerous parishioners assisting Dobson professionals in all stages of the project.
The Dobson 1994 that stands today in the sanctuary includes three manuals and pedals, 55 stops, and 60 ranks.
The October 20th concert will take place in the church sanctuary located at 111 Capital Avenue NW, Battle Creek, MI at 4:00PM followed by a reception. There will be a free will offering benefiting the worship and music ministry. For more information, contact the church at 269-964-3700 or www.firstpresbc.org.