Craig S. Williams Plays Round Lake Auditorium Organ


2:30 pm • Sunday, August 30th 2015
Round Lake Auditorium • Round Lake, NY

Join me in a bit of a local history lesson … I share what I’ve learned recently about the village of Round Lake. I’m guessing for some, it may not be new, but bear with me. Round Lake began as a “camp meeting” town in 1868, with as many as 20,000 gathering to hear rousing summer sermons. That’s quite a crowd … for the time, it rivals the crowd expected this weekend in Saratoga!

By the late 1800s, the village—which derives its name from the circular lake adjacent to it—evolved into a Chautauqua-styled educational resort, complete with hotels, museums, and lecture halls. At the center of the activity, literally and figuratively, was the Auditorium.

The Round Lake Auditorium is a building of unusual architecture, perhaps best appreciated when viewed from all angles. From a rough platform in a tree grove, it grew to an open-sided building with canvas flaps, and, in 1912, to the glass-enclosed pavilion we see today.  Walls of louvered windows create natural air-conditioning and gives a sense of an open pavilion. Falling into ruin by the 1950s and nearly bulldozed, the Auditorium is has been lovingly restored with modern amenities, creating a cultural venue of rustic architectural beauty.

The Auditorium’s crown jewel is its Gothic Revival-cased Ferris Tracker organ. Built in 1847 and moved to Round Lake in 1888, the 1900-pipe organ is the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States, and currently under consideration for National Landmark status.

Some of the pipes are large enough for a small child to crawl through and some small enough to be a child’s whistle. Built in 1847, what was the second largest organ in New York City is now the oldest, largest and unaltered of its kind in the United States. Thin ribbon-like wooden trackers connect the parts, while an electric blower provides the wind power to make the sound. The “tracker” system has been in existence for over 600 years and is one of the earliest “All American” built organs. Its beautiful sound is produced by the use of zinc and wooden pipes which cannot be reproduced electronically.” Round Lake Auditorium website

In the summer, Round Lake uses the Auditorium for a variety of social activities and concerts, some of which highlight the organ, of course. This Sunday’s concert features organist Craig S. Williams who is the West Point Organist and Choirmaster where he plays the world’s largest church pipe organ. His organ credits include Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center and many notable houses of worship. There is a nominal admission fee ($5) which can be paid at the door.

After the excitement that comes with American Pharoah in Saratoga on Saturday, this just might be your opportunity for a leisurely Sunday drive to soak in a serene afternoon of music in the village of Round Lake. Enjoy!

Upcoming Events

  • Maverick Concerts: Frederic Chiu and Andrew Russo, duo pianists | Schubert, Griffes, Prokofiev, Stravinsky
  • Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, NY
    Saturday, August 29th 2015 at 8:00 pm

  • Organ Concert: Craig Williams
  • Round Lake Auditorium, Round Lake, NY
    Sunday, August 30th 2015 at 2:30 pm

  • Maverick Concerts: Borromeo String Quartet | Schuller, Haydn, Beethoven
  • Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, NY
    Sunday, August 30th 2015 at 4:00 pm

  • “WMHT Live!”: Berkshire Bach Ensemble | Bach, Handel, Corelli, Vivaldi
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Sunday, August 30th 2015 at 6:00 pm

  • The Sembrich: “Topsy-Turvy”
  • Bolton Free Library, Bolton Landing
    Monday, August 31st 2015 at 7:30 pm

  • Windham Chamber Music Festival: Opus X
  • Windham Civic & Performing Arts Center, Windham, NY
    Saturday, September 5th 2015 at 8:00 pm