Kilgore is known for many things: the East Texas Oil Boom, the Kilgore College Rangerettes and the oil derricks which make up its skyline. Thanks to the hard work of Lorenz Maycher and many talented musicians, the City of Stars is quickly gaining a reputation for another of its features: the sound of its legendary pipe organs.
Maycher is preparing to ring in the ninth annual East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, which was originally conceived as a way to celebrate his lifelong love of the instrument and to celebrate the world-famous sound of the organs built by local and renowned organ builder Roy Perry.
“We actually have the most people playing we’ve ever had this year,” said festival director Maycher.
The festival schedule will include a day in Dallas, on Thursday, Nov. 12, with six organ programs. This will include a program featuring a performance on a Portuguese organ at Southern Methodist University, which is the oldest organ ever featured in the festival. It may be the oldest pipe organ in Texas, Maycher said, dating back to circa 1600.
The 2019 festival program will feature some organists who have performed with the festival in years past.
Walt Strony, who performed a solo concert with the festival in 2012 and has accompanied a silent movie screening in Kilgore, will perform a Veteran’s Day recital Nov. 11 at Kilgore’s First Presbyterian Church.
“He’s just released a compact-disc recording of his 2012 Kilgore performance. It’s spectacular,” Maycher said.
The CD performance of “Tico Tico” is available for viewing on YouTube, accompanied by photos of downtown Kilgore lit up with Christmas lights and decorations. At the time of this writing, the video has over 6,000 views.
“The playing is dazzling and the photography is dazzling,” Maycher said of the video. It can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2JngcJg or by searching “Walt Strony Tico Tico Kilgore” on YouTube.
The Veteran’s Day performance will be steeped in local history and patriotic honor, Maycher said.
“Because it is Veteran’s Day, he’s going to play a lot of patriotic music. The organ at the Presbyterian Church was given by the Crim family. The current organ is from 1949. One of Mrs. Crim’s sons, Robert Lee Crim, was killed in action in World War I. We’re going to make this concert in his honor and in memory of all the men and women who have served in our military. We’re hoping to get a big crowd for that. It will probably be our most appealing performance to the general public.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church, organist Christian Elliott will accompany silent film “For Heaven’s Sake”, starring famous silent film performer Harold Lloyd.
The final performance of this year’s festival will be held at First Presbyterian Church Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
“I’d have to say that there’s something for everyone. If you want to stay local and go to church in Kilgore, you’re not going to be disappointed in anything. The Monday morning concert is by the same Englishman giving the masterclass.”
Monday’s 10 a.m. performance at St. Luke’s will be “A Walk Through the English Countryside with Clive Driskill-Smith,” and will feature tea and scones.
The festival will be held Nov. 10-14 at various locations in Kilgore, Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana. Admission is free to the public. Learn more and find a full event schedule at www.EastTexasPipeOrganFestival.com.