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Organ Concert at Scotty’s Castle Enchants Audiences
The Death Valley Natural History Association (DVNHA) hosted three organ concerts, performed by organist James Welch, on June 17 and 18th at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park. The 3-manual, 15-rank Welte Organ, was originally intended for silent movies to be enjoyed by guests and residences of the Castle. Organist Welch brought the instrument to life with a variety of pieces, including the “Star Spangled Banner”, “Amazing Grace”, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, and “California Here I Come”. In addition to being playable from the console, the organ also has a roll-player, and several hundred rolls are stored in the Castle archives. The organ has 1121 pipes, a grand piano, glockenspiel, xylophone, chimes, orchestra bells, sleigh bells, bird calls, cymbals, brass drum, a woodblock, and is played for each public tour of the Castle.
The concerts are held annually in early summer because the furniture in the music room at Scotty’s Castle is removed once per year during the annual summer cleaning program. DVNHA and the National Park Service hire interns from around the country who receive special training in the handling of historic objects.
At the Saturday evening concert, the DVNHA was honored by Death Valley NP Superintendent Sarah Craighead for surpassing the $3 million mark in donations to the park. The DVNHA has been assisting the park in park projects since 1954 through member contributions, grants, and sales of merchandise within the park. “We appreciate the partnership and the friendship throughout the years” Superintendent Craighead said as she presented a Regional Partnership Award to David Blacker, Executive Director of DVNHA.
Response to the concerts was so widespread that it is possible more concerts will be added in 2012. All proceeds from the concert go to the Organ and Chimes Tower Fund for Scotty’s Castle. For more information about the DVNHA, go to www.dvnha.org or call 800-478-8564. For more information about Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley, go to www.nps.gov/deva or call 760-786-2392.