Bev & S.W. Pressey give Colorado State University - Pueblo music department 1896 organ
PUEBLO – An 1896 Farrand & Votey organ valued at more than $10,000 has found a new home at Colorado State University-Pueblo to provide practice time for future generations of organists thanks to a donation by Bev Buzan Pressey & S.W. Pressey III.
In a response to frequent requests from students for practice times on the organ, Bev Pressey sought a location to adopt the reed organ, which she first played as a music graduate student at the University of Montana in Missoula back in the 1960s. After purchasing the organ in 1962 and hauling it first to Miles City, Montana, Pressey and four fellow male graduate students lifted the 700+ pound instrument into a U-Haul trailer and delivered it to Pueblo, where it has remained in the Pressey’s household ever since.
The reed organ pulls air through suction bellows to make music. Because the organ was not originally electrified, the player was required to pump the treadles with their feet. Or, if the organist wished to play the foot pedals, a second individual was required to operate the hand pump. Bev and her father, Paul Buzan, purchased a vacuum motor and electrified the organ so that pumping was no longer necessary. Her family also re-carpeted the pedals and front panel and replaced a broken pedal reed.
Dr. Jennifer Peters, chair of the CSU-Pueblo music department, said the gift is serendipitous as just last year two music majors requested organ lessons. Peters noted that large universities with music departments with more space and resources customarily keep small pipe organs as part of the curriculum. Peters said that students in Pueblo have to practice on the organ in Hoag Recital Hall at odd hours, like before 8 a.m., in order to find time in Hoag Hall’s busy schedule. The Hoag Hall organ is stored in the wings of the stage and so must be pulled out by two people and set up for each rehearsal.
“I knew from experience that students were having a difficult time finding time to practice on the big organs because they were calling me,” said Bev Pressey, who was a music teacher, organ instructor, and organist at First Baptist and Adrian’s Methodist churches throughout her time in Pueblo.
Among the unique features of the organ is a flat rather than concave pedal board, which challenges the individual to improve his or her pedal technique.