In Hertz Hall, a concert organ to make Bach himself feel at home

Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Phil Ebiner/UC Berkeley


BERKELEY — Students earning academic degrees from Berkeley’s music department won’t be marching to the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” at graduation this year, but the event will be marked by celebratory concert performances on the hall’s recently installed Noack concert organ.

Five graduates, winners of the campus’s prestigious Eisner and Menn prizes, will perform or have their own compositions performed on the Hertz Hall stage, with the organ rising majestically above. Then Davitt Moroney, a UC Berkeley professor of music and University Organist, performs before the ceremony on the organ. At 1:30 he plays a processional with pieces by Purcell, Byrd and Blow, and ends with a recessional, Gayement (from BWV 572), by J. S. Bach..

This marks the first time the Noack organ will be played for graduation. It was moved from the Episcopal Cathedral Church of Saint John in Wilmington, Del., and installed in Hertz Hall last year, replacing another organ that had been in use since the 1950s. The walls around the organ were redecorated in golden “Dutch metal,” which not only complements the darker oak of the organ case, but also helps with the acoustics and contrasts with the silver of the organ’s metal pipes.

“It’s as if it were designed for Hertz Hall instead of a cathedral,” says Moroney.