PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Portland is one of two cities in the United States that still employs a municipal organist, the other city is Sand Diego, California. While Portland's current municipal organist is wrapping up another Christmas show season, he's also wrapping up the longest run in the position that Portland has ever seen.
Ray Cornils took the position of the 10th municipal organist for Portland in June of 1990, and come January first, 2018, he will be retiring from it.
For the past 27 and a half years, Cornils has been organizing concerts in the city, teaching music education and the science behind the sound to elementary and middle school students, and of course, performing for the masses- not just in Maine, but around the country, and even the world.
Cornils describes playing the pipe organ, especially Merrill Auditorium's mighty Kotzschmar Organ, as a sensation that can only be describes through music, not words. The ability to master the playing an immense instrument with both his hands and feet "makes him get up in the morning," Cornils says.
Of all the things he'll miss, Cornils says he will miss the people the most- both the audience members, the musicians he's played alongside, and his coworkers at Friends of Kotzschmar Organ, the nonprofit that funds his position.
While Cornils will step away from playing music professionally, he says he will never stop playing.
Cornils will play his final showcase performance, Christmas With Cornils, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on Tuesday, December 19th.