LEWISTON — The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul will showcase the newly rebuilt console on its 1938 Casavant organ at a concert Friday, Sept. 13. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the ornate granite structure on Ash Street.

Organist Scott Vaillancourt said the effort to restore the renowned organ has been going on for more than 10 years, but the most recent phase of the restoration — rebuilding the console — was “by far the most complicated and most expensive.”

The console is 80 years old “or so,” Vaillancourt said, and had started showing its age over the past few years.

“We’d have situations where some keys wouldn’t work if you didn’t push hard enough, and other times where you’d push a key and it would activate sounds you didn’t want,” he said. “It was getting untenable.”

Vaillancourt said the console features four manuals, a pedal board and an array of buttons, levers, knobs and foot pedals and “is like what a keyboard is to a computer.” Fixing it was paramount to ensuring that concerts go off without a hitch, he said.

Vaillancourt said that in January a “big supporter of the organ approached me and asked what it would cost to get the console fixed.

“I told him that a bid came in for $85,000,” Vaillancourt said. “He told me that if the parish could raise $30,000, he would match it, meaning we’d only need to raise a little bit extra.”

By March, through a combination of donations, collections and concerts, the basilica had raised the money.

Vaillancourt said Thomas Fielding, a Michigan organist and composer, will perform at the Sept. 13 concert, which will “appeal to the general population, not just organ aficionados.”

“There’ll be a lot of familiar tunes mixed in with the organ songs,” Vaillancourt said. “The songs will help show off the full spectrum of the instrument.”

The concert is free, though Vaillancourt said donations will be accepted for continued renovations on the organ.

“This was the biggest phase of the project, by far, but there’s still some work that needs to be done on the organ,” Vaillancourt said.

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Scott Vaillancourt practices on the 1938 Casavant organ at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston on Nov. 4, 2016. The newly rebuilt console will be showcased at a Sept. 13 concert. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo


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