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11 November 2012

The 25th anniversaries of our Op. 37 and Op. 38 at the Church of St. Stephen the Martyr in Edina, Minnesota, were celebrated today. Under the direction of long-time parish musician Larry Reynolds, a festive concert featured the organs in collaboration with a variety of other instruments and area musicians, including the St. Stephen’s Parish Choir and guest organist Michael Barone at the chancel organ for Vierne’s Messe solonnelle.

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26 October 2012

Dear Friend of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders,

This past November marked 38 years since I founded my company in Lake City, Iowa. Since 1974, we have been privileged to build 90 new organs and rebuild or restore several dozen existing instruments. In the beginning, I could never have imagined the many friendships I would make or the incredible opportunities my company would be given.

I am excited to announce a new chapter in our company's history. In 1984 I hired John Panning as a general organ builder and voicer. Over the years, he has made just about every part of a pipe organ, and is now our tonal director. He works closely with me in the conception and design of new instruments, and I think that most of you already know him. John and I have recently made an agreement that provides for the future of our workshop. Until now, I have been the sole owner of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd. With this agreement, John becomes a partner in the corporation, and will assume full ownership of the company in 2020. It is my intention to retire from an active role in Dobson Pipe Organ Builders at that time. Until then, I remain fully involved in our workshop and each of its projects.

There is no denying that the economy of the last four years has been difficult for all of us, but I remain optimistic about the future of fine organ building. The inaugural year of our Op. 90 in Birmingham, Alabama, completed this spring, was celebrated during Independent Presbyterian Church's 48th annual November recital series, the first using the new organ, with Vincent Dubois, Nathan Laube, Peter Sykes, and Peter Dubois presenting programs. Our talented crew is now hard at work on Op. 91 for Merton College in Oxford, which is only the third mechanical action organ ever built by an American firm for an English institution. And as the economy improves, we are busy with a growing number of intriguing new projects, including design studies for St. Dunstan's Church in Carmel Valley, California, and Trinity Church in Princeton, New Jersey. All of this makes me not only proud and thankful for what we've been able to accomplish, but also gives me great encouragement for the future.

I know that with your confidence and friendship we will be able to continue this good work.


Lynn A. Dobson

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13 October 2012

Our friend and colleague John Ourensma announced today that he had accepted the position of Director of Music and Arts at Hillsdale First United Methodist Church in Hillsdale, Michigan. He assumes his new duties on January 1, 2013.

John has been an important member of the Dobson crew for over 13 years, playing a significant role as a pipemaker, voicer, and one of the public faces of the company in meetings and at conventions. His musical skills, which have been so valuable to us, continued to call him to church work, and have led him to rejoin church music full-time.

Sad as we are that he is leaving Lake City, we are sure that his ministry in Hillsdale will be a blessing to many as it has been to us. We wish John and his wife Laurel the best in this new chapter!

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Summer 2012

Summertime is convention time, and we packed our bags for Philadelphia, Nashville and points even more distant. John Panning, our tonal director, attended the conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians, which ran from 17-22 June and included events featuring our Op. 76 at the Kimmel Center and Op. 84 at St. David’s Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania. In the first week of July, Lynn Dobson, John Ourensma and Dean Zenor attended the American Guild of Organists convention. And at the end of July, John Panning represented Dobson at the biennial congress of the International Society of Organbuilders, held this year in Switzerland. One of the highlights of this year’s congress was the oldest playable organ in the world, in the basilica of Valère, situated on a hill above Sion, which was built around 1435.

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On 17 June, Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, home of our Op. 79, presented Ryan Anthony and Gary Beard, a trumpet/organ duo that previously performed in Ellison Bay in 2006 to great acclaim. On 29 July, the church welcomed young virtuoso Christopher Houlihan.

In the eight years since its installation, Shepherd of the Bay, set far from urban centers in Wisconsin’s scenic Door County, has welcomed a range of artists that might well be the envy of a major metropolitan church. Musicians who have offered programs on Op. 79 include Stephen Alltop, Ryan Anthony, Gary Beard, Bruce Bengtson, Michael Burkhardt, David Cherwien, Ken Cowan, Laura Ellis, John Ferguson, Paul Jacobs, Nathan Laube, Gordon Rowley, Naomi Rowley, Daniel Sullivan, Erik Wm. Suter, Ruth Tweeten, and Bradley Hunter Welch.

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6 May 2012

The Joseph W. Schreiber Memorial Organ, our Op. 90 for Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was dedicated in festive worship services today. Dedicatory concerts followed on each Sunday in the month of May. Read the review of Ken Cowan’s May 20th program in the Birmingham News.

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29 April 2012  

St. John United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia, presented a joyful celebration of the Great Fifty Days of Easter entitled “New Life: Alleluia!” with organist and composer David Cherwien at the console of our Op. 78. Reflections during this hymn festival were offered by theologian, musician and author Don Saliers.

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21 April 2012

Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts hosted the American Guild of Organists’ Recital and Gala Benefit Reception honoring John and Marianne Weaver today. John and Marianne Weaver, and John’s students Diane Meredith Belcher, Chelsea Chen, Ken Cowan, and Alan Morrison, performed on the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ. A gala benefit reception followed. A pre-concert on-stage conversation with the performers was moderated by Pipedreams host Michael Barone All proceeds benefited the AGO Endowment Fund in the Weavers’ honor.

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10 March 2012

We remember with fondness and gratitude the life and work of Gregory S. Larsen, educator, church musician, and friend, who passed away today. A graduate of Indiana University, Greg taught general and choral music at a number of schools in Minnesota and Colorado. In addition, from 1988–1993 he served as organist at the Church of St. Stephen the Martyr in Edina, Minnesota, home of Op. 37 & Op. 38, and was instrumental in the commissioning of Op. 70 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, where he served from 1993–1999. Our lives and those of his many students and friends have been enriched by his vitality, creativity and good humor. We offer our sincerest condolences to Greg’s wife Laurie and the rest of his family.

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7-8 February 2012

Our tonal director, John Panning, was part of Independent Presbyterian Church’s 41st Religious Arts Festival, speaking in separate programs to adults and children about the new organ. Also presenting at the Festival, entitled “Craftsmanship in Service to the Church”, were John Paul Huguley, Michael Bauer, and the male classical vocal quartet New York Polyphony.

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January 2012

We were happy to have Evan Cole working with us for a few weeks this January. Evan grew up in Edina, Minnesota, where he was a member of the Church of St. Stephen the Martyr, home of our Op. 37 and Op. 38. When we cleaned these instruments last summer, Evan was among the volunteers from the church who helped. During his time in Lake City this winter, he’s assisting in the restoration of the Orange City street organ. Evan is a sophomore at Colorado College, where he is an organ student of Frank Shelton.

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Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.
200 North Illinois Street • Post Office Box 25
Lake City, Iowa 51449 USA
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