Pipe dream comes true for Kennedy Center

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A pipe dream came true at the Kennedy Center last night at the debut of the Center’s massive new pipe organ.

“I’m so pleased to welcome all of you to this very special concert that inaugurates our beautiful new organ and marks the beginning of a new era for music at the Kennedy Center,” Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser told the crowd.

“The 5,000 pipes of our new organ range in size from those smaller than a pencil to some more than 30 feet in length,” Kaiser says.

“A special feature of our organ is the Filene Stop, a set of 61 pipes retained from our original organ. Installing and adjusting each of these pipes took many months.”

The original organ, donated by Catherine Filene Shouse, would sometimes make odd sounds and was never quite right for the space.

The $2 million for the new instrument was donated by Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein, and will be known as the Rubenstein Family Organ.

“You know, an organ – now this one is big enough and loud enough I hope you agree – is only as good as the people who play it. And obviously we now have an organ in this hall that is appropriate for the hall, and we have an orchestra and an organist who know how to play it,” said Rubenstein.

The new organ weighs about 20 tons, contains 89 visible pipes covered in 24 karat gold leaf in its fa