Ray Cornils 12 Highlights from his work in Maine
Renovation of the Kotzschmar Organ
The renovation of the Kotzschmar Organ was a project that Ray Cornils remembers as one of his single greatest experiences during his 27-year stint as Municipal Organist for the City of Portland.
In 2012, Portland’s Kotzschmar Organ was sent off for renovations with a “Grand Centennial Closing” concert, which signaled the beginning of the organ’s extensive repairs. Mr. Cornils played a duet of Auld Lang Syne with organist Peter Richard Conte, a moving performance that showcased the removal of the instrument’s massive pipes.
Mr. Cornils played a major role in defining the scope of the renovation project. He even traveled with the organ to Connecticut on its journey to restoration. “I was a key player in many of the artistic decisions including the selection of additional stops for the instrument and the care and voicing of the original pipes,” stated Mr. Cornils.
After repairs completed in 2014, the organ was welcomed back to Merrill Auditorium with the “Triumphant Return of the Kotzschmar” concert. Mr. Cornils remembers performing with exhilaration and joy at the re-opening concert, again alongside fellow organist Peter Conte. Mr. Cornils recalls that at this comeback concert enthusiasm for the project’s results were palpable, not only in respect to sound and tone, but audience reception. “I was extremely pleased and gratified with the final results. Before the completion of the project, I knew that my ears would hear the difference, but I was overwhelmed when the results of the renovation were so clearly evident to each and every one that heard and experienced the organ.”
Mr. Cornils and many who have known the organ before and after its restoration can attest that the renovation project has contributed greatly to a historic and cultural gem in the City of Portland, and it is in this contribution that organ enthusiasts hope for the Kotzschmar to enjoy another 100 years-worth of performance.