March 3: Dedication of Current Pipe Organ (1968)

Frequently in Epiphany’s history a renovation of the church brought a new pipe organ. Such was the case in 1968, when a new chancel area was created in the front of the rood screen and a new organ, with a movable console, was installed. This organ, the fifth in the church’s history, was Opus 1485 of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston. With the death of long-time organist-choirmaster Adolph Torovsky in 1967, the organ became a memorial to him. Before Mr. Torovsky’s passing, a brilliant young organist had been brought on staff as an assistant. His name was Garnell Stuart Copeland and he performed the dedicatory recital of the instrument on March 3, 1968.

Despite it being a cold, windy day, a capacity crowd filled the church on March 3rd to hear the new organ. One of those in the audience was composer and church musician Leo Sowerby, often called the “Dean of American church music” in the 20th Century. Garnell Copeland had studied under Sowerby at the now defunct College of Church Musicians at Washington Cathedral. Copeland played Sowerby’s “Passacaglia in F,” which had been dedicated to Epiphany rector Edgar Romig and Copeland’s “Prelude in C Minor,” his tribute to Dr. Sowerby. In a Washington Star review of the recital, critic Lawrence Sears wrote:  “Musical pilgrims to Washington will now want to include a visit to Epiphany Church on downtown G Street to see and hear its stunning new Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.”

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