LEWISTON – A new group, The Friends of the Casavant Organ at Saints Peter and Paul Church, will host their first fund-raiser on Saturday, April 17, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 150 East Ave.

The “Pennies from Heaven Dinner Dance” will feature an evening of fine dining, entertainment and dancing with a social hour at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and entertainment and dancing from 8 to 11 p.m.

A buffet featuring prime rib au jus, lobster Newburg and eggplant Parmesan plus numerous other dishes will be catered by Connie’s Catering. The Brochus catered in the Lewiston-Auburn area for 25 years, retiring in 1990. The deadline for reservations is Tuesday, April 13.

The well-known Vintage group with Roger Renaud, Marc Morin and Pam Vaillancourt will provide the music for dancing. Several other local artists will share the stage with Vintage, performing throughout the evening.

The French Canadians who made Lewiston their home and Saints Peter and Paul their church in the late 19th century attached great value to music and the arts. In pursuit of excellence, they hired one of North America’s greatest organ builders, Casavant Freres, to create an instrument that would fill their new edifice with glorious sound. The results were the Opus 1587 and 1588 instruments that, combined through a single console, comprise the largest church organ in the state of Maine.

Reviving a treasure

Now that the economic revival of Lewiston-Auburn is under way, it is time to revive one of the area’s great musical treasures, say organizers of the fund-raiser. Through its use as a superb accompaniment and solo instrument for concerts, recitals and liturgical events, the Casavant Organ in Saints Peter and Paul and its accompanying acoustics could once again be a cornerstone for the arts in Lewiston-Auburn. The support of this endeavor will not only return this world-class instrument to its former glory but will help to ensure that future generations will have this tremendous resource.

The pipe organ was dedicated in 1938. Recitals have been played on the Casavant by some leading international organists, including Marcel Dupre and Dr. Charles-Marie Courboin.

A renowned organist, Bernard Piche, also served as organist at Saint Peter’s from 1945 to 1966. A recipient of the Prix d’Europe prize, he had studied under the master Charles Tournemire and played concerts in many parts of North America. When he left the Lewiston church, he joined the faculty of the Conservatory of Quebec.

All proceeds for this event will be used to restore the Casavant organ. Tickets are $25 and are available at Victor News. For more information, people can contact the event’s co-chairs, Connie Cote at 783-2162 or Pauline Sabo at 353-4801.

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