Music has been an important part of graduation ceremonies at U of T since the Casavant Opus 474 organ was first installed in Convocation Hall almost 100 years ago. But decades of playing have left the impressive instrument in need of major repairs – and benefactors to contribute to restoration efforts.
Earlier this year, Rose Patten, chair of Governing Council, committed $100,000 to the cause. “The organ is a rare instrument – one of a handful of its kind – and an essential part of the convocation tradition,” she says. “This gift should help ensure that the tradition continues.” Covering roughly half of the project’s costs, Ms Patten’s donation, combined with other funds, will ensure that the organ is fully operational in time for
spring 2008 convocations.
As chair, Patten has no official role at convocation, but says she tries to attend as many ceremonies as possible each year. The refurbishment of the organ is part of a broader campaign to restore Convocation Hall in honour of its 100th anniversary this year. The U of T Alumni Association (UTAA) kicked off the campaign in 2005, with a $500,000 gift. Alumni and friends who pledge $1,907 can have a dedication inscribed on a seat plaque. Including the UTAA’s initial contribution, a total of $1.2 million has been raised so far.