Wendell Phillips Whalum Sr. Memorial Pipe Organ
The credit for the success of the organ at Morehouse College rests with Dr. Wendell P. Whalum Sr. It was through his insistence and tireless effort that Morehouse College, his alma mater, acquired this instrument.
Dr. Whalum described the organ he envisioned as follows “My chief concern is to honor the college with making available an instrument that is capable of playing organ literature from all musical periods.” It is also an effort to create an instrument that would attract the world’s greatest organists. In the chapel that seats 2,501 and with this organ, we are able to further enrich the music education of Morehouse students, community and move into first place with facility and equipment.”
To fulfill these varied requirements, Morehouse College called upon the Wicks Organ Company through Mr. Arthur Schlueter of Atlanta, to do the construction and installation. The Wicks Organ Company is located in Highland, Michigan. Charles Mosely of Houston, Texas, directed the tonal design and construction to ensure an instrument suited to its particular mission.
The resulting instrument is striking, both visually and aurally. The façade, which measures thirty-eight feet in width, features an exposed 32’ Principal and copper 8’ Trumpet en Chamade, the lower notes of which are hooded. The tonal design of the organ can be described as “American Classic,” with French flavor as well as nomenclature. At the time of the instrument’s completion, it was one of the largest organs in the South, and second largest in Atlanta. The Wicks Organ was featured at the 1992 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists during its Opening Convocation.
Dr. David F. Oliver – “Improvisation on Dear Old Morehouse”
On April 25, 1982, the new 92-rank Wicks pipe organ was dedicated in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel to Dr. Wendell Phillps Whalum Sr., Callaway Professor of Music, College Organist, and Director of the renowned Morehouse College Glee Club.
Since the passing of Dr. Whalum in 1987, three organists have had the honor of serving as College Organist. Michael Johnson succeeded Dr. Whalum in 1987. David Stills ’60, served as organist from1988-1995. Dr. David F. Oliver has served as Artist in Residence and College organist since 1995. Dr. Elaine Satterwhite, of the Department of Music, taught organ and served as associate organist for many years.
Many renowned organists have performed recitals on the Wendell P. Whalum Sr. Pipe Organ. Among them include the following African-American organists: Dr. Joyce Johnson, Dr. David Hurd, Dr. Herdon Spillman, Dr. Herman Taylor, Marvin Mills, and Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry.
Wendell Phillips Whalum Sr. Memorial Pipe Organ Photo: