Marsilio brings historic organs back to life - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Marsilio brings historic organs back to life

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FARRELL, Pa. -

A hundred years ago, massive pipe organs were fairly common in churches and theatres all over the place. That's not the case anymore, but one man in Austintown is trying to keep the music alive.

Vic Marsilio is a master organ builder - one of only about 30 in the U.S.

"It's a narrow, narrow, narrow market," said Marsilio. "But we're the people that work behind the scenes that make the magic happen on Sunday, that you never see us."

His latest project is an organ built in 1909 at Our Lady of Fatima in Farrell, a unique find.

"To have an original instrument in its original location is pretty rare. Especially, you find one that's so well preserved, it's a real jewel," said Marsilio.

"That's the way it should be," said father Donald Berdis. "It's God's house, and if we don't preserve God's house, why would people want to come here?"

Father Berdis has experimented with what he calls "canned" music in the past, but says it's no replacement - and well worth the investment to keep this part of the church's heritage going.

"You feel the difference because when you have the organist playing the music, it seems to just touch their minds and their hearts," said Berdis.

"It can play the full spectrum of music. It's like having an artist's palette with many colors of paint. You can paint and create," said Marsilio.

Only about 10% of these organs even still exist. Only 1% exist in the original spot. Another of Vic's projects used to be in the Palace Theatre in Youngstown. Now, it's at C&C Ribbon in Boardman. It took about ten years for Vic to track down all the pieces scattered across the nation.

"Parts of it I found in a barn in Warren, Ohio. Parts of it as far away as Oakland, California. It got broken up for parts and pieces," said Marsilio.

This one is unique as well. It used to accompany silent movies, complete with sound effects. But just like all the others, it's a piece of the past, entertaining thousands once again.

"To know you're preserving that part of history, it's wonderful to keep something that valuable alive and useful," said Marsilio.

Giving generations to come, a chance to feel the music just like people did a hundred years ago.

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