John S. Mueller

Organ Department Chair, NCSA

We look back fondly on the five months in 1977 that Charles Fisk was a guest in our home in Winston-Salem, NC while he was finishing and voicing Opus 75 for the North Carolina School of the Arts. Charles’ gregarious personality, warmth, intellect and charm were wonderfully shared with Margaret and me, as well as with many faculty members at the North Carolina School of the Arts. These faculty contacts stimulated interest in his work and made many new friends for the organ. I particularly remember one incident during the organ’s installation that I would like to share with you. Each day I stopped by Crawford Hall to see and hear the progress Charles had made in voicing the organ. On one such visit I found the hall filled with smoke, smoke, which Charles had not noticed as it no doubt, accumulated rather gradually. I pointed it out to him and he immediately ordered me to call the fire department. I’m sure we were both thinking of the tragic burning and loss of the organ at St. Eustache in Paris on December 16, 1844 just as it was completely renovated and considerably enlarged by Doublaine and Callinet. By the time the fire department and I got to Crawford Hall, Charles had the situation under control. The bare light bulb he was using for his work had slipped to rest on a wooden swell shade which was smoking violently. Fortunately the wood was only scorched and had not yet burst into flames. The mark remains to this day and reminds us of the few desperate moments twenty-six years ago when we thought the organ could have been lost.

Frank Taylor and Charles Fisk

Frank Taylor and Charlie examine a 2 manual keydesk in production c. 1976

Photo: Robert Cornell