Fiftieth anniversary of pipe organ to be celebrated with concert

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WESTFIELD, NJ — On Sunday, Oct. 16, at 12:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, 125 Elmer St., Westfield, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the installation of its pipe organ with a recital by FCC member and accomplished organist William Rehwinkel.
The pipe organ was installed by Austin Organs Inc. in 1972. It is FCC’s fourth pipe organ and now the longest serving in the church’s history, having surpassed its predecessor, designed by M.P. Möller.
The Austin organ was designed and tested by Frederick Swann, the organist and music director at Riverside Church in New York City at the time, and Nicholas Tino, FCC’s then–director of music. Swann described the organ as “one of the finest instruments of its size in America.” It was stated by church leadership at the time that the organ “brings a musical dimension to our worship that is difficult to match.”

The organ contains 30 ranks totaling 1,791 individual pipes, as well as the vox humana stop and the chimes, which are retained from the Möller organ and are rung at the end of each service.
The recital program to be performed by Rehwinkel will include Dietrich Buxtehude’s Praeludium in G Minor, one of Herbert Howells’ Psalm-Preludes, Nicolaus Bruhns’ Preludium in E minor, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor, Marco Enrico Bossi’s “Ave Maria” and one of Charles V. Stanford’s postludes.

Rehwinkel is an organ student at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He was an organ scholar at Christ Church in Summit and is now the organist at First Congregational Church of Westfield. In addition to performing, Rehwinkel composes and arranges music for the organ.
“After researching the multiyear story on the search for a new organ, I was struck by the great care with which the committee recommended this Austin organ to the congregation, and I reflected on how the committee’s deliberations and eventual decision have continued to positively affect our musical experience at First Congregational Church so many years later,” Rehwinkel said. “This increased my appreciation for this organ and its unique characteristics, and I hope that the congregation will enjoy it for decades to come.”

Joseph Regan, the church’s assistant music director for 21 years and its interim music director for the last 18 months, said, “I have been thrilled to see and hear what this organ is truly capable of, and especially watching William grow musically using the instrument to practice, to worship and to perform over the years.”

The concert will follow the 10 a.m. Sunday worship service. All are welcome to attend both the service and the free concert. Donations to benefit the music ministry at the church will be accepted.
For more information, visit or call 908-233-2494.

Photos Courtesy of Debra L. Volz