In fall 2003, renowned concert organist David Higgs traveled to Augusta to play an inaugural concert on the new Dobson opus 78 at St. John United Methodist Church.
That concert, 10 years ago this month, launched and inspired Concerts with a Cause, a free concert series with the goal of bringing the world’s great organists to Augusta.
“Since that day, our community has enjoyed 10 years of free concerts by both local and international stars – organists, choral conductors, singers, and other instrumentalists,” said Jamie Council Garvey, the director of music at St. John.
This weekend, Higgs returns for an encore performance. The 10th anniversary celebration begins at 3 p.m. Sunday at the church. An offering benefits Child Enrichment Inc., a local advocacy organization for abused children, and a reception will follow.
Over the past decade, Concerts with a Cause has raised more than $127,000 for 38 local charities.
“It’s created a precedent. It’s given inspiration to other churches getting new organs,” said Lynn Dobson, the president and artistic director of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa.
He designed the Dobson opus 78, a mechanical-action pipe organ with American black cherry case and hand-carved basswood pipe shades.
The organ is one-of-a-kind, and one of the few mechanical-action organs in Augusta.
“It was a really fun installation,” Dobson recalled. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Augusta. The people at St. John were so fun and friendly to work with.”
Dobson returns to Augusta for Sunday’s concert, for which Higgs, the chairman of the organ department at Eastman School of Music, has planned a selection of “festive” organ pieces.
“Higgs is a stand-out,” Garvey said. “The organ is a monstrous sort of instrument. There are so many mechanics to it. Higgs knows how to put the breath of life in those pipes.”