That Brown possesses the largest remaining operational Hutchings-Votey organ in the galaxy ranks in the top five things you hear on a prospective student tour, somewhere between “there is no typical Brown student” and “No, I didn’t see Emma Watson on campus” (Ed. – We should write that up). While most Brown students never saw Emma Watson, many Brown students do go to an organ concert or two during their undergraduate careers. If you have yet to see the organ in action, don’t miss tonight’s Midnight Halloween Organ Concert. For most of Brunonia, however, knowledge of the behemoth that resides inside Sayles above the imposing portraits of old white guys stops there. Most people don’t even know what a Hutchings (or a Votey) is! Last month, we sat down with Mark Steinbach, Brown’s University Organist, to clear a few things up ahead of the annual Halloween concert. It’s safe to say we got more than we bargained for.
I caught up with Mark Steinbach after one of his organ lessons. I showed up in Sayles at 2:57 for a 3:00 p.m. meeting, and he gave me a polite yet stern request to wait downstairs while he finished with his student. You’re really getting your money’s worth with him, apparently. Once he had finished teaching, however, he dove headfirst into our meeting. I guess you kind of have to be all-in on the organ once you’re that good at playing it. We began with a tour of the inside of the organ.