David Gray, a theatre organist from Scotland, will play a concert to benefit the Kenmore Heritage Society. All proceeds will be dedicated to bringing the history of Kenmore to the city’s three elementary schools through the StoryWalk program. Courtesy photo

David Gray, a theatre organist from Scotland, will play a concert to benefit the Kenmore Heritage Society. All proceeds will be dedicated to bringing the history of Kenmore to the city’s three elementary schools through the StoryWalk program. Courtesy photo

Scottish organist to play benefit concert for Kenmore Heritage Society

All proceeds will go toward bringing the city’s history elementary schools through the StoryWalk program.

In a time when people are always moving from one thing to the next, many neglect to learn the history of their surroundings — much less how it affects their lives today.

At least, that’s what Jo Ann Evans thinks.

As a longtime volunteer for the Kenmore Heritage society, Evans thinks it’s important for people to know the history of where they live — especially children.

Using excerpts from the heritage society’s children’s version of the book, “Kenmore by the Lake: A Community History,” the heritage society is working to install signs throughout Kenmore elementary schools as part of PopUp Storywalk.

PopUp Storywalk is a local program promoting literacy, health and art appreciation using deconstructed children’s storybooks installed in outdoor community spaces. Many Kenmore residents may have seen PopUp Storywalk signs throughout various Kenmore parks including Rhododendron Park and St. Edward State Park.

“We want to bring the history of Kenmore to schools,” Evans said. “It’s important to reach out to the kids. It’s important to know about where you’re living and how all these pieces fit together.”

However, according to Kenmore planning commissioner and heritage society member Suzanne Greathouse, creating the PopUp Storywalk signs aren’t cheap. And for a small nonprofit such as the Kenmore Heritage Society, it is a challenge to fund the project.

Since Greathouse joined the society almost two years ago, she has worked to help the organization become more interactive, generational and intercultural. She thought joining with the PopUp Storywalk would be a great way to accomplish the society’s goals.

“We want to engage kids with history,” she said. “We know that they weren’t in tune with their surroundings and we hope this will help create a sense of place and an understanding of where they come from.”

Greathouse said the PopUp Storywalk will accomplish three things: getting kids outside, getting them to read and getting them to interact with their families.

“It’s emblematic of the community and what Kenmore is all about,” she said.

To raise funds for its project, the Kenmore Heritage Society will host a benefit concert featuring theater organist, David Gray. This will be the nonprofit’s first fundraiser.

An internationally acclaimed organist and the recipient of various major awards, Gray was named Young Theatre Organist of the Year in 2005 by the American Theatre Organ Society. Attracted to music at the age of 4, he taught himself to play the piano by ear, began taking lessons a year later and subsequently attended London’s Royal Academy of Music. Gray will be performing in the Pacific Northwest as part of a U.S. tour.

Gray will present a program of popular music on July 14 at Evans’ Kenmore home on her and her husband’s 1924 Wurlitzer organ.

The three-keyboard, 1,208-pipe organ is rarely heard publicly. It has all the sound effects — doorbells, sleigh bells, birds, sirens, car horns, train whistles and more — once used to bring sound to silent motion pictures. It is one of only a few known working 1924 Wurlitzers.

“It will be highly entertaining,” Evans said. “When people think about organ music they think churches and funerals, but it’s more than that. Gray will play a lot of popular music that everyone knows.”

Tickets to the program are $35 per person. Seating is limited and advance reservations are required at wurligal@yahoo.com, or 425-485-5465. For more information about the Kenmore Heritage Society, visit kenmoreheritage society.com.

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