Ed Thompson was on the choral music staff at CSULB. Under his fine leadership the first presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitors was given in our sanctuary to a packed house in 1976. Debbie Spielberg played Amahl; Mary Breuer, the mother; and Sam Kosowsky and Milt Sager, 2 of the 3 kings.
In the mid 1970s, a project to find and secure a pipe organ for our sanctuary was begun under the chairmanship of Jon Martin, a member of the Adult Choir and the Finance Committee. Manuel Rosales, an organ builder in Los Angeles, was retained to help find an instrument. The William B.D. Simmons organ was found by Mr. Rosales in the Howard Street Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. This church was scheduled for demolition, and the organ was purchased and moved in thousands of pieces to the shop of Mr. Rosales for restoration. Several tenor-clef stops were enhanced with bass octaves. The original 13 Subbass pipes were augmented to 30, and a 7-stop Pedal chest was prepared. On Sept. 24, 1978, the Dedication Concert for our “new” pipe organ was presented by John Ranney. At this event, the significance of this organ, thought to be the oldest pipe organ west of the Mississippi, was recognized by the City of Long Beach and the Organ Historical Society.
The William B.D. Simmons Organ, 1852, is a registered landmark with the City of Long Beach, and “has been selected for citation as an instrument of exceptional historic merit worthy of preservation” by the Organ Historical Society. For more information about the Organ click here.
Photo of organ and choir Photo IMG_6823
In the late 1970s, the first three octaves of handbells was purchased for LAUMC through memorial funds in the name of Sybil Royer. The first Handbell Choir Director was Jane Dennis. As the years progressed, the fourth octave of bells was purchased with Pearl Sager Memorial Funds and gifts from the Bell Choir. The fifth octave was added much later with a gift from Mildred Wadleigh. Mary Bush provided the Bell Choir with the first two octaves of handchimes, and the choir was able to purchase three more octaves through fund raising.