RUPERT — The Rupert United Methodist Church will host a brown-bag concert featuring the sounds of their 80-year-old pipe organ from 12-1 p.m. on Oct. 17 at the church on 605 H St., Rupert. The public is invited to bring a sack lunch and bottled water for quiet dining at designated tables in the stained-glass window aisle, or simply listen from the pews to selections played by Judy Graham-Barnes. Concerts will be held every other Tuesday through May. Guest musicians will sometimes be featured. There will be a free-will donation opportunity at each event.
For over 56 years, Graham-Barnes has been tickling the ivories of this unique instrument — a Kimball pipe organ purchased by the Rupert Methodist Church Ladies Aid Society in Dec., 1937. The owner of Anderson Piano Company refused his $750 commission, a big sacrifice for a family breadwinner, and sold it to the church for a mere $1,750. In honor of the first concert by Mrs. T. R. Neilson of Pocatello, Graham-Barnes wants to share the simple but varied sounds of this two-manual pipe organ with the public.
A member of the American Guild of Organists, Graham-Barnes’ first encounter with a pipe organ was a life-changing experience. “Wind blows through a pipe, and an other-worldly sound sings through a vast building,” she said in a statement. For most of us, our first experience hearing an organ was in church, leaving a lasting memory. During the golden era of pipe-organ construction, organ builders designed stops, or voices, with the purpose of imitating other instruments such as the flute, oboe or trumpet. Most churches today opt for digital organs, at a fraction of the price, which reproduce or imitate sounds by retrieving digitally-stored data and emitting sound through a set of specially-designed high-end speakers. Real pipes can be felt. It is the difference between virtual reality and reality. For Graham-Barnes, no technology can replace the thrill of the stately organ she plays for church services, which she began doing at the age of 13. “We are very blessed to be one of few” with a piece of history that is still in weekly use.