Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
March 4, 2001

Presbyterian to play the organ for the Methodists Sunday night

Trinity Methodists in Opelika will welcome a gifted Presbyterian to the organ bench Sunday night. My Calvinist friends will try to convince me that it was predestined for Dan Garland to play for us. And for a little while I will put aside my Armenian theology and agree with them.

Why a Presbyterian? Because Dan is the skilled technician the church hired to serve as our organ builder, and he has been a faithful member of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, all his life. Dan completed his good work for Trinity last fall and we persuaded him to come "show off" the organ for us. He will talk to us about the organ itself as well as play it.

He insisted that his playing be part of a service of worship in which he would share the playing duties with Trinityís longtime organist, Donna Kemp. We happily agreed so that we could dedicate the organ at the same time we invite our community friends to hear both Dan and Donna on the keyboard. Believe me, both of them know how to play this organ!

Danís interest in pipe organs and church music began at an early age when the Minister of Music of his church allowed him to assist him at the console and help with minor tuning of the instrument. This exposure prompted Dan to spend a lot of time learning about organs. He even built a small instrument in his familyís home.

This Texan is much more than an organ "mechanic." He earned a Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in organ performance from Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth in 1975. While there he rebuilt the organ in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Upon graduation he worked for organ builders Otto Hoffman in Austin and Ross King in Fort Worth. He formed his own firm in 1982 which four years later became the Garland Pipe Organs Corporation.

An avid supporter of Boy Scouts, Dan worked for several years as Business Manager and Director of Worth Ranch Scout Camp in Palo Pinto, Texas. He has been awarded the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, and the Silver Beaver and the Order of the Arrow Founderís Award. In 1992 he was listed in Whoís Who Among Rising Young Americans.

Folks at Trinity are grateful to Dr. Bill Whatley and his team for guiding the refurbishing and expansion of the pipe organ. Billís team employed as a consultant, Dr. James Cook of Birmingham-Southern College. Alex Whatley served ably as the General Contractor for the organ work and additional remodeling that was done to enhance the beauty of the Trinity sanctuary.

The original Trinity organ was a Moller organ built in 1908. Back then organ builders sought to imitate orchestral sounds with much "string-like" voicing in the pipes. It is this Romantic Era sound that the people of Trinity have enjoyed for nearly 100 years. Dan has renewed this sound in the new organ.

By the time Dan began his work over a year ago, the Trinity organ was slowly dying. But Danís skill has provided the church with an instrument with greater physical and tonal flexibility while retaining the beloved "Romantic Sound of Trinity."

So Sunday night the Trinity family invites one and all to share the celebration with Donna Kemp and Texas Presbyterian Dan Garland at the console.