Ray Cornils 12 Highlights from his work in Maine

Celebrating 50 years of John Weaver Performing on the Kotzschmar Organ

In 1956 organist John Weaver sat at the console of the Kotzschmar Organ for the first time. This began an unbroken 50-year run of John Weaver performances on the Kotzschmar organ, the longest performance streak of any musician on Portland’s famed instrument.

Ray Cornils, who retires from his position as Municipal Organist on December 31st of this year, remembers Mr. Weaver’s performances fondly.

“John Weaver’s annual concert was always a highlight for me. He has a straight-forward, no-nonsense approach to playing that was always persuasive to the listener in these concerts. And he would always play by memory, even when performing giants of the repertoire.”

Mr. Weaver studied and taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, a school whom astute historians might recognize has connections to Portland and the Kotzschmar Organ itself. The school is named after its founder Mary Louise Curtis Bok, daughter of publishing magnate Cyrus H.K. Curtis, the man who funded the construction of the Kotzschmar Organ and donated it to the City of Portland – the H.K. stands for Hermann Kotzschmar. Mr. Weaver explains how he came to play from memory for his entire career.

“While studying at the Curtis Institute, we were taught that you cannot truly know a piece of music unless you have it memorized. And so we were encouraged to memorize any piece we intended to perform in concert. I continued this practice as a fundamental part of my teaching and performance careers.”

Regardless of the size and scope of a piece, Mr. Weaver performed each from memory.

In 1981, the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ was formed in order to help ensure the care and maintenance of the organ for future generations. Given his dedication to the Kotzschmar as a performer, Mr. Weaver became a founding member of the FOKO Advisory Board, a position he continues to hold to this day.