After a long and storied starring role in numerous community musical events, the only pipe organ in Hood River County needs a little love (and repair).
In the 50th anniversary year of its installation, the organ at the back of the chancel at Riverside Community Church is now the centerpiece of an effort to generate community support for a long-needed upgrade.
The Rev. Vicky Stifter said Riverside has decided to rededicate the organ in memory of the late Rodger Schock, a church member and longtime public servant.
She said the Rodger Schock Community Organ has a long history of serving the community as part of musical events staged at the church and open to the public.
The church presents a yearly Advent music series on Fridays in December, sponsored by the Walton Music Trust.
Programs often include the Hood River Valley High School choirs, the Riverside Chancel Choir, Tinsel & Tails Dog Concert, jazz Christmas piano music, a chime choir and other concerts of varying musical genres.
Stifter said dedication of the refurbished organ will occur at the Simple Gifts events on Nov. 16, another musical offering open to the public. Repairs will help Riverside expand its calendar of musical events for the community.
“A properly functioning pipe organ will enhance the attractiveness of the venue for visiting performers,” she said.
Needed repairs will cost almost as much as the $23,000 original cost of the Wicks organ. It replaced a dilapidated Wicks Pipe Organ installed in 1910.
Diana Beterbide, musical director at RCC, said there are just a few people in the area who can play the organ.
She plays frequently for church services and concerts, said Mary Ann Parrot is a regular user, and noted that Margaret Marshall is a valued community alumnus, having played the organ during church services for many years. But the organ is showing signs of age.
“In fact, there are certain notes that don’t work at all and I have to avoid them when practicing, which is annoying, to say the least,” she said.
“When it is repaired, artists who are of concert caliber can be invited to Riverside to give organ programs,” Beterbide said. “In its current state, you’re not going to find anyone that would be willing to play the instrument because it is so unreliable.”
She has offered to play a couple of pieces on the organ for the Simple Gifts dedication event.
“It is a significant asset to the community,” Beterbide said. “As far as I know, it is the only pipe organ in the Hood River Valley. Most churches have taken their organs out.”
Anyone interested in supporting the Rodger Schock Community Organ may contact RCC Office Manager Lorre Chester-Rea at 541-386-1412.