O'Malley gift to fund pipe organ in new choral hall


The University of Notre Dame has received a gift through a charitable remainder trust from the late Marjorie M. O’Malley for a handcrafted pipe organ for the Chris and Anne Reyes Organ and Choral Hall in the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts.p. A member of Notre Dame’s Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Letters from 1980 to 1986, Mrs. O’Malley died Jan. 29 in Woodside, Calif. She and her late husband, Charles F. O’Malley, also provided funding for the Holtkamp organ installed in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in 1978.

The new organ is being built by Paul Fritts&Co. of Tacoma, Wash., and will have 2,550 pipes and 35 stops.

“The Fritts organ will be a marvelous instrument upon which to play the great organ literature of the 17th and 18th centuries,” said Craig Cramer, faculty organist and professor of music. "It is of the highest quality workmanship and was designed to contrast with the Holtkamp organ, which has already provided practice and study for a generation of students.

“This magnificent new organ will enable us to teach a much broader spectrum of music in an authentic and appropriate way. The impact that it will have on our programs is of incalculable value, and we always will be deeply indebted to Mrs. O’Malley.”

Over a year in the making, the organ is being built by a team of six craftspeople, which also will spend two weeks assembling it upon delivery within the next two months. Organ builder Paul Fritts then will voice and tune each of the pipes, a process that will take approximately two months.

The O’Malley benefaction also will endow The Marjorie O’Malley Sacred Music Series, which will help ensure the development and perpetuation of a vigorous program in liturgical music at Notre Dame.

A native of Detroit, Mrs. O’Malley held an associate’s degree in music from Arlington Hall Junior College in Washington, D.C. Her father, Herbert A. Mendelson, was a member of Notre Dame’s Advisory Council for the College of Business Administration (now the Mendoza College of Business).

Scheduled to open in the fall, the $63.6-million, 150,000-square-foot DeBartolo Center will be home to the University’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre and will house, in addition to the 100-seat organ and choral hall, the 900-seat Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Concert Hall, the 350-seat Patricia George Decio Theatre, the 100-seat Regis Philbin Studio Theatre, and the 200-seat THX-equipped Browning Family Cinema.

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