Guest Artist Interview with Ray Cornils

“My duties included playing a number of concerts on the Kotzschmar Organ throughout the year, sponsoring a concert series with guest artists from around the world, collaborating with other arts organizations in the southern Maine area in concerts, developing a multi-faceted educational outreach program for all ages and working with the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) board and curator for the health and maintenance of the organ. Additionally, the organ appears several times each year with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and plays for numerous high school graduations which take place at City Hall. The organ appears in about 20-25 concerts every year, with over 30,000 people hearing the organ over the course of the year.

In the late 1990’s the FOKO board noted the aging of our audiences. After much discussion, we developed an educational outreach program targeted at working with students at various local schools. Using the AGO Pipeworks curriculum, developed by the Seattle Chapter of the AGO, we worked with local teachers and school administration to align a curriculum with the Maine State Learning Standards, using the organ and its music as the launchpad for exploration of various subjects.

Our goal is to give every child an understanding of and appreciation for the pipe organ, especially the Kotzschmar Organ, through an integrated educational exploration in the areas of math, science, music, social studies and history, as well as to experience a live performance specifically geared to their age level at Merrill Auditorium.

The very hardworking and effective FOKO board have brought the organ back to full health after the instrument was at the brink of death in the late 1970’s. It has been a decades-long venture.

The organ is now ready to serve the next century with renewed vigor. The future is very bright for the instrument, especially under the guidance of James Kennerley, my successor and Portland’s 11th Municipal Organist, who started his work January 1, 2018.”

-Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Pro-Motion Music, September 4, 2018

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