Corinth Reformed Church
Hickory, North Carolina
R.A. Colby Inc.
Johnson City, Tennessee
The beginning of every project is an exciting blank canvas, a chance to create a multisensory experience that is truly special. We all know the feeling when it is done right: sitting halfway back in the sanctuary, in the sweet spot where the acoustic couplings of the pipe chambers meet—those pews where the bass gives you chills and full organ has you choke back the tears. There is no feeling like it. Music is transcendent; it pulls us into that space where we are personally enveloped yet still embrace a collective experience. The new instrument for Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, North Carolina, is the perfect example of emotion translated to visual and aural components.
Tonally, the instrument’s design is American Classic with Anglican influences. Yet, as one would anticipate with a tonal palette as diverse as this, it is proficient in many styles. From Bach to Widor, it can lift the hearts and voices of the people.
In addition to the sound of the organ, the visual aspects of the space and the casework provide another full dimension to worship. The design was drawn from the architectural elements of the room and then pushed just a bit further, so that the organ would become one with its surroundings yet still able to command individual attention. The Hooded Trumpet in the gallery has a very special design that allows the pipes to be the central focus, framing the stained glass window, yet upon closer inspection one sees that it contains the most ornate woodwork of the instrument. Custom-designed five-foot-tall carvings support the casework canopy. High-gloss antique gold pipes tie together the visual elements of the chancel and gallery displays, bringing unity to the instrument and the sanctuary they now call home.
The most engaging experience of our time with Corinth Reformed Church was the chance to work with a committee holding a vision not only for the organ itself, but for the spiritual impact on worship it should create. From the earliest stages of the instrument’s conceptualization, each aspect of the specification and visual design had to serve the needs of the congregation and the community.
A unique addition to this instrument is a memorial dedication plaque and a single speaking Vox Humana pipe that hearkens back to the youth of the organ committee chair. This is the sole remaining pipe from a long-ago organ project he and his father undertook, one that instilled a lifelong love of the instrument. We appreciate the relationships we have built along with this instrument, and we include comments from committee members.
Brad Colby, vice president of R.A. Colby Inc., is a third-generation organbuilder holding an MBA from Duke University. He is also an active member of the American Institute of Organbuilders and the American Guild of Organists. Website: RAColby.com
From Organ Committee Members:
I would like to begin by thanking the members of our organ committee: Martha Sowers, Mary Berry, Peter Corneliussen, Bob Young, and Joe Lippard. Their combined talents and contributions were invaluable in helping us to achieve our goal of a world-class instrument. I also wish to thank our financial contributors who helped make this dream a reality. Secondly, we owe a great thanks to the members of the R.A. Colby firm. After our committee had exposure to their instruments, our decision to engage them was unanimous. Their experience, professionalism, and breadth of knowledge made the decision an easy one. Our initial goal was to have an instrument that would glorify the Lord for many years. When we consider the acoustical properties of this sanctuary and also the beauty of the instrument and environment, it is clear that we have achieved this goal. We look forward to many years of sharing this instrument and praising God in this place of worship.
Neil Forrest, Chair
It is both a privilege and a labor of love to serve on an organ committee. The many hours of work over the last two and a half years have culminated in a dream fulfilled for me personally as well as for those who preceded us—men and women who contributed to the dream of a grand instrument, but did not see it materialize in their lifetimes. Their vision gave us a firm foundation on which to begin this project. The new R.A. Colby instrument, Opus 513, brings to our area one of the finest organs in the southeastern United States. It was a clear and easy decision for our committee to choose the Colby firm once we toured and listened to their other installations. The builders incorporated the very best from the previous Möller, Opus 9207-A, and the superior acoustical environment of the Corinth sanctuary makes the new instrument both versatile and magnificent. Ultimately, this organ will endure through the ages and will ensure that God will be glorified in this place with quality music. Those of us who play will be lifted to new heights of spiritual connection through the vast array of resources available. We look forward to the day when we are able to hold our dedication recital to further share and celebrate this grand instrument with others.
Joe Lippard, Secretary
From the Organist and Director
of Music Ministry
How much beauty can one tolerate? It is 3:23 p.m. on a crisp, cool January day in 2021. The sky outside is a brilliant blue; prism-like colors radiate through the stained glass of Corinth Church. In about an hour and a half, that gorgeous stained glass–filtered sunlight will reach the facade pipes of the Colby organ. The sanctuary is beautiful. A French Gothic stone structure, imposing to the eye from the outside, gives way to the hypnotic stained glass–empowered rays of sunlight and beautiful wood on the inside of the nave. I had never heard of Roger Colby’s organ company until our wonderful organ committee was formed and we began a thorough search to find just the right builder for our project. Roger has established something quite remarkable. His team is thorough, talented, and passionate about its work. If I weren’t biased, I would say that we at Corinth Church got the best of its efforts! But the truth is that everyone at R.A. Colby gives the best of themselves, their company, and their talents to everyone they welcome into partnership for organ projects.
I arrived from Miami, Florida, with my family to begin work as organist and director of music at Corinth Church in August 2001. My first staff meeting was September 11, 2001. The newly re-created organ was finished in 2020. A couple of pretty eventful years; years of great trial, sadness, and difficulty. Years when God-inspired beauty was needed more than ever to uplift, inspire, and help people hold on till the next day, next hour, or even next minute. Roger Colby listened with his heart to our wonderful and dedicated organ committee. He listened to what we prayed for—a window that might help all who enter this sacred space experience the power, inspiration, and stillness of the breath of the Almighty speaking through pipes in a room of beautiful acoustical resonance. Thanks to Roger Colby, our organ committee, our senior pastor, and our supportive congregation! We can never have too many windows to the Almighty, too much love for our neighbors, or too much beauty to celebrate!