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3 magnificent church pipe organs will be featured at May 11 concert in Medina

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 April 2019 at 7:45 am

Photo courtesy of Gabriele Simon: Aaron Grabowski plays the organ at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Medina, one of three he will play during a progressive organ concert May 11 to benefit the Cobblestone Museum.

MEDINA – This year’s progressive organ concert to benefit the Cobblestone Museum returns May 11 and organizers are pushing for a repeat of a sellout.

“So Much More Than a Concert” will feature Medina organist Aaron Grabowski.

“Last year’s concert and dinner exceeded all expectations,” said Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum. “This year’s event is bigger and better in many ways.”

Playing the organ has been a passion of Aaron Grabowski since he was in eighth grade, and he is looking forward to showcasing his talent at three Medina churches.

He will be featured on three magnificent organs in Medina churches during the progressive organ concert, which will include appetizers and wine tasting at Trinity Lutheran Church on West Avenue, followed by Grabowski playing their historic pipe organ; dinner by Zambistro at St. Mary’s Church (Trinity) school hall after a concert by Grabowski on their pipe organ; and lastly, Grabowski’s rendering on the pipe organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church, followed by dessert and beverage.

Grabowski grew up in the Kenmore/Tonawanda area and began his musical career with violin lessons when he was in fourth grade. His fascination with the organ was fostered when a year later he heard a record of Bach music by E. Power Biggs.

“To hear a really authentic pipe organ played by a renowned artist is really awe-inspiring,” Grabowski said.

Photo courtesy of Chris Busch: The organ gallery at St. Mary’s Church is shown in this photo. Organist Aaron Grabowski, who is in the process of restoring the church’s organ, will play a selection of songs there during the progressive organ concert May 11.

He began formal organ lessons at the age of 16. After graduating from high school, he entered the University of Buffalo, where he got his music bachelor’s in organ performance.

An organ is what brought him to Medina for the first time.

Grabowski had been music director at St. Paul’s in Kenmore where the Rev. Paul Whitney served before coming to Medina. Chris Busch, a member of St. Mary’s Church, wanted to see St. Mary’s organ restored to working order and Father Whitney knew Grabowski was the person who could do it. He contacted Grabowski to come and look at it the organ and Busch took him on a tour of Medina.

“Aaron went home and told his wife they might have to move to Medina,” Busch said.

“Gayle and I came to Medina and drove around the village and fell in love with it,” Grabowski said. “Gayle and I had always wanted to restore a Victorian home and Medina was full of them. That was the catalyst for our moving to Medina in 2005.”

They purchased a home on Park Avenue and have been in the process of restoring it since 2010.

Grabowski is excited about the prospect of playing the three pipe organs at the Medina churches.

His full-time job is working for Parsons Pipe Organ Builders in Canandaigua. As two of their contracts out of more than 300 they maintain are the pipe organs at Christ Episcopal Church in Albion and the Albion First Baptist Church, he attended the first progressive organ concert there last year.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some of the pipes in a Holtkamp pipe organ at Trinity Lutheran Church are pictured in March 2015 while the organ was put together inside the Medina church. The organ was moved from Cincinnati.

“I know Bill Lattin and I asked if he thought anyone would be interested if I gave a little background on each organ,” Grabowski said. “That led to meeting Doug Farley from the Cobblestone Museum, and I offered my services.”

The entire program for the May 11 event is all music Grabowski picked for its appropriateness to each organ he will play, he said.

Trinity Lutheran’s organ came from the Episcopal Cathedral in Cincinnati and was featured in a concert last year by the wife of Gerre Hancock, who had been organist and choir director at the Cathedral. The organ was installed at Trinity Lutheran about four years ago.

St. Mary’s organ was first installed in 1913, but has undergone many changes during the years. It lends itself to mid-18th century French and German style music.

The 19th century Hook and Hastings organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church was rebuilt in the 1950s or 1960s by Schlicker Organ Company in Buffalo.

Grabowski will play a total of 30 pieces at the three churches, for a total of 2 1/2 hours of music.

Reservations for the concert and dinner must be made by calling the Cobblestone Museum at 589-9013.

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