50@50: The crown jewel of the Wertheim Performing Arts Center


To celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary, FIU News is sharing 50 moments in FIU’s history as part of our “50@50″ series.

A gift from longtime FIU philanthropist Dr. Herbert Wertheim, the Sydell Ida Wertheim Concert Organ was custom-made by one of the country’s preeminent organ builders, the Schantz Organ Company of Ohio.

Built in 1999 for nearly $700,000, the 4,226-pipe Schantz organ is the crown jewel of the Hebert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center’s 600-seat concert hall and would cost millions of dollars to build today.

It took a year for the 26-ton organ, which is the largest in Miami-Dade County and one of the most technologically advanced in the country, to be completed. It features a solid-oak console with four manual keyboards and a pedal clavier that controls its pipes.

The organ’s completion earned FIU the cover photo of the October 1999 issue of the journal The American Organist with an accompanying essay by Schantz Tonal Director Jeffrey Dexter. In his essay, Dexter noted that Schantz organs are typically built for churches, so Schantz relished the opportunity to customize an organ for a university with a thriving School of Music and outstanding concert hall.

“This instrument is unquestionably one of the finest concert organs to be found anywhere in the state of Florida,” Dexter wrote.


Excerpt from the 2012 FIU Magazine article “FIU’s king of instruments” written by Deborah O’Neil. Read the full story here.