Arts & Events

Paul Fritt’s organ-building celebrated April 27

A free concert honoring the achievement of Paul Fritts ’73 will be held Sunday, April 27 at 2 p.m. in Kilworth Memorial Chapel. Fritts earned the “Outstanding Music Alumnus” award in 2013 for his work in organ-building and design. Accomplished university organist Joseph Adam will perform the concert.

The Twenty-third Annual Bethel Schneebeck Organ Recital will include works by Heinrich Scheidemann, Francois Couperin, Johann Sebastian Bach, César Franck and Maurice Duruflé.

Adam has performed in numerous cathedrals—including those in the Netherlands, Vienna, England and Washington, D.C.— earned many awards—including first prize at the 1991 St. Albans International Organ Competition in England—and has been the Cathedral Organist at St. James Cathedral in Seattle since 1993.

Fritts built the Bethel Schneebeck organ in the university’s Kilworth Memorial Chapel in 1989. Fritts’s eighth organ, or Opus, replaced the organ his father installed over 20 years prior.

School of Music Director Keith Ward said, “It is only fitting that we present Paul with the award before one of his organs, which was made possible through the generosity of Bethel Schneebeck.”

The “Outstanding Music Alumnus” award is an honor for alumni who “have achieved distinguished careers in the field of music or the music industry, or through outstanding service to the musical arts.”

The ceremony and official awarding of the honor will take place following the Intermission of the concert.

After graduating from Puget Sound in 1973, Fritts joined his father’s company in 1977. He later took over the firm and began Paul Fritts and Co. Organ Builders in 1979, dedicated to designing and building high quality pipe organs “that both players and audiences will love and cherish.”

He also switched from building electrical-action to more mechanical-action pipe organs, a more technically demanding practice.

What makes his company unique is that all design work and construction of the thousands of components that make up an organ (except for the interior electronics) is done in-house from carefully selected raw materials.

Strict attention is also paid not only to the organs themselves, but also to the rooms in which the completed organ will be played

According to the official company website, “Paul has personally studied organs in The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Mexico, France and the United States paying close attention not only to the organs themselves, but to the acoustical properties of the rooms in which they are installed.”

He has installed over 42 custom-designed organs in churches, cathedrals, residences, parishes, and at 10 different universities, including University of Rochester in New York and University of Notre Dame in Indiana, in thirteen states and even Korea.

Admission to the celebratory concert is free, and a ticket is not required for entry. It promises to be an afternoon filled with beautiful music, and what a unique opportunity to see and thank the very man who designed the source of the wonderful sounds that have delighted the campus community for so many years.