Kennedy Center unveils new 5,000-pipe organ

WASHINGTON (AP/ABC7) - The Kennedy Center is unveiling a large new pipe organ to replace a 40-year-old organ that was never ideal for its concert hall.

"We have been looking and looking for the perfect instrument for more than a decade, and we're just so delighted that this day is finally here and tonight the public gets to hear for the first time," said Rita Shapiro, the executive director for the National Symphony Orchestra.

The Rubenstein Family Organ makes its debut Tuesday evening in a free performance featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and organist William Neil.

The concert includes Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor."

The organ was already built, in storage and partially paid for by D.C.'s Metropolitan Baptist Church. The church even traveled to Canada in the summer of 2008 to bless the organ.

But later that year, with the bad economy, the church ran out of money to build a new sanctuary in Largo, Md, which still sits unfinished. A minister showed ABC7 the wall where the organ was going to be installed.

Rev. Jesse Wood said, "We had made payments on the what extent I can't share that information with you...whatever arrangements they were able to make with the Kennedy Center, we certainly wish them well."

Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein donated $2 million for the purchase of the organ in 2011.

The gift brings his donations to the center to $25 million. The organ was assembled, custom installed and painstakingly tuned by Casavant Freres of Quebec.

It has four keyboards and nearly 5,000 pipes.

The heaviest pipe weighs 400 pounds. It replaces the smaller Filene organ from 1972, which sometimes let out loud, unexpected noises.

That organ was eventually deemed unusable.

Tuesday's concert begins at 6 p.m.