Hidden behind the ornamental screen above Town Hall Seattle's main stage, sits a hulking technological marvel—a pipe organ built into the bones of the building when it was erected in 1923.
Although the 2,023 pipes of the organ remain in excellent (if dusty) condition, they stand silent, unused… a vestigial organ of sorts. The magnificent instrument hasn’t been played since 1998, when the keyboard console was removed to create a larger stage.
During this tour, former Town Hall Scholar in Residence Brangien Davis will lead you into the belly of the beast, walking the narrow paths among the pipes, climbing up into the loft, and entering the tomb-like air chest—the virtual lung of the instrument, which was considered an evolutionary leap in organ technology at the time. Along the way, we’ll get a brief history of pipe organs (invented 2,000 years before the piano!), a primer on how they work, and hear the backstory of the Town Hall building, which was originally a Church of Christian Science. We’ll also take a stab at bringing the organ back to life—if only for a moment.
Town Hall is scheduled for a massive upgrade, during which the pipe organ will be removed permanently. This tour will be one of the last chances to experience the organ in its original, organic form.
About Brangien Davis
Brangien Davis was the arts & culture editor at Seattle magazine for eight years and founded the literary magazine Swivel. Currently a freelance writer/editor and singer/songwriter, she recently released an album with her husband as The Argument.
- Pathways are very narrow and pipes are dusty.
- Sensible shoes required, especially if you choose to climb the short ladder into the loft section.
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