Money Matters: Instrument restored to glory after costly repairs

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 10/12/2012 11:00 am

It’s an iconic instrument Texas Tech shares with the community. However, time, wear and tear had taken a toll on the Holtkamp pipe organ.

“We needed to renovate the organ because it had been 33 years since it had been substantially overhauled,” Bill Ballenger, Texas Tech’s School of Music Director said.  

Ballenger said the price tag for repairs was hefty.

“We were looking for $350,000. That was the estimate. The CH Foundation, which is a wonderful foundation here in town, put forth a $175,000 challenge grant. So we needed to raise the other $175,000,” Ballenger said.  

That’s when Ballenger took the matter of money into his own hands, or perhaps we should say “feet.”

“I would put on my tennis shoes and start running,” Ballenger said.  

The numbers were calculated.

“If I would run 1,000 miles and find 175 people to give a dollar a mile, we would have the money,” Ballenger noted.  

Ballenger’s fundraiser called “Run Bill Run” inspired many donors to contribute to the cause.

“I had seven months to get this done so that worked out to about five miles per day,” Ballenger said.  

He accomplished the feat, with his feet, and the $350,000 was in hand for repairs.

If $350,000 seems like a large investment for repairs, consider the cost for a complete replacement.

“We’d be looking at a multi-million dollar investment,” Tom Hughes, Texas Tech’s Professor of Organ said.  

Hughes said refurbishing the organ was the only option.

“We reached a point where large portions of the instrument weren’t working,” Hughes noted. “This instrument is used virtually every day. We have organ students and the repertoire that we could not perform without it.” 

Every pipe was adjusted, cleaned and tuned.

“To put it into numbers there are about 8,500 pipes are up here,” Hughes said.  

The fixture at Hemmle Recital Hall was restored to its full glory.

“It’s a fuller tone. It’s not quite as shiny as it was before,” Hughes said. “These repairs will last at least 50 years, at least. Probably more like 75.”

So, another 1000-mile fundraiser isn’t likely for Ballenger.

“It’s been quite the project but we’re very happy about this being finished,” Ballenger said.  

Repairs were completed on August 20.

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