From Saint Matthew School
Renowned musician Richard Merryman shared his talent and love of music by offering an organ workshop for the students of Tyrone’s Saint Matthew School.
As the featured Artist in Residence, Merryman walked the students through the history of the Saint Matthew 1912 Tellers pipe organ.
“It is so important to share the story behind how this marvelous instrument made its way to this church and the importance those early parishioners placed on music as part of their worship experience,” Merryman said.
Merryman shared how the Saint Matthew parishioners met the train from Erie at the Tyrone station and then faithfully carried the 700 tin and wooden pipes from the station, up Cameron Avenue hill, up the winding church staircase, to the balcony of Saint Matthew church. Over the decades the number of pipes was increased to 950 and the console was replaced with a triple keyboard system with increased electronic capabilities.
Students were then treated to hearing the variety of sounds an organ can create. Merryman demonstrated each “voice” of the organ by playing familiar pieces known to the students. At the same time, the students were able to look inside the room of pipes and observe the bellows, that sends the air through the pipes, in action.
“Although it is great for these young minds to hear me play, it is even more important for them to realize that they too can sit at this keyboard,” Merryman added. “That is why I asked the teachers to find students who played piano and ask them to bring a prepared piece. With the new technology in our console, the organ can automatically provide the deep base notes usually played by the foot pedals. As each young musician began to play their piano piece, they heard the full vibrant sound of the organ playing back at them.”
“It was amazing to watch the faces of these young musicians, as well their friends, when they sat at that organ and were able to create such a large and vibrant sound,” said Enrichment Instructor, Steve Stoner. “This is why we bring such talented people to interact with our students because there is no substitute for experiencing something first hand. Not only does the young person realize that there is no limit to their own talent and imagination, the artist has the opportunity to inspire a new generation.”
Just as Richard Merryman has inspired generations of Tyrone residents, both as an organist and a teacher, he continued to do so in the balcony of Saint Matthew Church. “As one of the piano students left, he told me that he wanted to play the organ. He then went home that day and told his parents. This amazing school is going to work with me so we can make that happen for him and the other young musicians who felt inspired today. It’s a win for everyone as well as our community.”