Red Dirt Diaries: OU Pipe Organs Project
NORMAN, Oklahoma - There's a massive restoration project going on down in Norman. The goal is to recapture history by making sure sounds of the past are still pitch perfect.
The work has a certain rhythm to it.
But the real music comes from something now scattered into a thousand pieces on the ground.
It takes 18 months from start to finish to bring a theater pipe organ from 1935 back to life.
The work is being done at the University of Oklahoma, home to the American Organ Institute, the only program of its kind in the country.
“It doesn't just engage the ear. It engages the whole body. You feel it,” John Riester, with the American Organ Institute said.
Reister, like others at work in the warehouse, said the distinct music struck a chord with them early in life.
The organ was once used by an Oklahoma radio station and tuning each of its 1,000 or so pipes can sound suspenseful, like a scene from a Hitchcock film, ringing over and over.
“Like you've been to a rock concert and you got the haze and it sounds like they're two miles away,” Adam Pajam, with the American Organ Institute said.
However, since its inception in 2006, the institute has always had students. And thanks in part to the number of churches in the Sooner State, it's always had projects.
The pay-off can be heard at OU's music department, when air gets pushed through this already restored organ and Institute Director John Schwandt pushes the pipes to a roar.
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