What is one to do when one’s instrument isn’t available?

Improvise.

Portland’s municipal organist, Ray Cornils, faces that dilemma this year. The historic Kotzschmar Organ is undergoing an extensive refurbishment, and is not available.

So Cornils is taking the show on the road.

This year’s “Christmas with Cornils: A Kotzschmar Christmas” concerts will play at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston on Tuesday and at the Cathedral of St. Luke in Portland on Dec. 18.

“We decided to get Ray out there,” said Kathleen Grammer, executive director of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ. “We obviously need a decent instrument to do these concerts, and we found two that are exceptional.”

Cornils is looking forward to bringing the annual holiday concert to new venues. It will be different doing it in liturgical spaces as opposed to Merrill Auditorium in Portland, where the Kotzschmar has been housed since 1912. But the bulk of the program remains similar to that of past years.

The Festival Brass and Parish Ringers will join Cornils. He has programmed sacred songs, choral music, carols and light-hearted Christmas fare.

“It’s a festive free-for-all,” Cornils said. “We hope the concert captures the imagination and spirit and the variety of season.”

Both the basilica in Lewiston and St. Luke in Portland offer wonderful commanding instrument that will add flavor and texture to the concert, he said.

The refurbished Kotzschmar is expected to be back in service in September 2014, Grammer said.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes