July 2020 TAO Feature Article

Irvin Boudreaux Practice Organ Baton Rouge, Louisiana Nolte Organ Building • Milwaukee, Wisconsin By John M. Nolte Every successful organ project begins with a dream or vision. The maxim attributed to Thomas Edison is also true: “Vision without execution is just hallucination.” Irvin Boudreaux’s vision of his own practice instrument began when he was a private student of Warren Hutton at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. The most popular practice organ on campus was the 1974 Holtkamp two-manual and pedal tracker with three 8' ranks: Manual I Rohrflöte, Manual II Copula, and Pedal Pommer. There were no stops or couplers, just 154 pipes to help you learn your music. Irvin thought about this off and on for a number of years. … [Read more...]

June 2020 TAO Feature Article

First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Chattanooga, Tennessee Allen Organ Company • Macungie, Pennsylvania by Jeff Ayers Stop List   When entering the Woodmore neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee, observers will notice a large stone Gothic structure with soaring heights and stunning architecture. Upon walking into First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, you will immediately notice the 70-foot-tall brick walls, stone floor, hand-painted ceiling, and the organ, strikingly flanked by stained glass windows and pipework. For more than 40 years, Bruce Clark has served as the organist at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In 1980, he oversaw the installation of the 48-rank Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ that originally included … [Read more...]

May 2020 TAO Feature Article

The Renovation of the Christ (Crystal) Cathedral Organ Garden Grove, California Fratelli Ruffatti Padova, Italy Stop List 1 Stop List 2 By Francesco Ruffatti What an exciting journey! The story started in 1970, when our firm was contacted by Richard Unfried, the organist of the Garden Grove Community Church in Garden Grove, California. Negotiations began for the manufacturing of a very large five-manual instrument. It was to be installed in a building that, in addition to being a formal sanctuary, was also used as a drive-in church, featuring large glass doors overlooking the parking lot, making it possible for people to follow Dr. Robert Schuller’s service from their cars. The contract for a new organ was signed in May … [Read more...]

April 2020 TAO Feature Article

Wesley United Methodist Church Muscatine, Iowa C.B. Fisk Inc. Opus 153 Stop List By David C. Pike In January 2018, C.B. Fisk was, for the first time in its 57-year history, commissioned to replace a church organ that had been destroyed by an act of God. On March 6, 2017, a tornado swept through downtown Muscatine, Iowa, a small industrial city on the banks of the Mississippi River. During its brief, circuitous path through town, the tornado’s 115-mile-per-hour winds toppled the tall masonry chimney of Wesley United Methodist Church. The chimney’s stone-work came crashing down onto the roof over the pipe organ chamber. The roof collapsed, and in the blink of an eye Wesley’s 1983 four-manual 94-rank pipe organ, the largest … [Read more...]

March 2020 TAO Feature Article

The Cathedral of Christ the King Superior, Wisconsin Glück Pipe Organs • New York City Stop List By Sebastian M. Glück   From the time that the Cathedral of Christ the King was dedicated on Christmas Day of 1927, the goal of building a suitable pipe organ had been elusive. The neo-Romanesque structure and its campanile are built upon a raised platform and stand nobly against the Wisconsin sky. Romanesque churches feature thick masonry walls with small windows that encourage ample reverberation, yet 1937 witnessed the carpeting of the sanctuary and the installation of sound-absorbing materials covering the ceiling and the upper walls of the nave, annihilating reverberation. In recent decades, the choir, accompanied by a … [Read more...]

February 2020 TAO Feature Article

Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe Orlando, Florida Schoenstein & Co.• Benicia, California View the Stop List   The Tonal Perspective The tonal design opportunity here was truly grand—plenty of well-placed space for each division and a stoplist large enough to face no compromises. The challenge, as always, was making a good acoustical match. Even a “perfect” acoustic must be carefully matched to make full use of its quality. The Basilica is built on the plan of the original fourth-century St. Peter’s in Rome, but, of course, it is made of modern materials. The size and shape encourage a wonderful openness and short, but pleasing, reverberation. The clarity is quite wonderful. The frequency … [Read more...]

January 2020 TAO Feature Article

Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Norfolk, Virginia Casavant Opus 2734, Renovated by Foley-Baker Inc. Stop List by Mike Foley Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church has long been noted for its music. In 2012, Kevin Kwan became the director of music and organist and in just a few years lifted the program to yet new heights. The church opened in 1910 with a 50-rank Austin which, after a massive fire, was replaced with a replica instrument. This organ fell victim to water and wear over time and was replaced in 1963 with Casavant’s 68-rank Opus 2734. At the time, it was a fine example of America’s mid-century outlook on tonal design. However, as with so many other churches, the ever-changing ear of the organ world did not … [Read more...]

December 2019 TAO Feature Article

The McLean Memorial Organ: Its History and Evolution (1919–2019) By F. Anthony Thurman The McLean Memorial Organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown (northwest Philadelphia) has a rich and storied history. It is not only the largest church organ in Philadelphia but also one of the largest pipe organs in the Delaware Valley. The roster of prominent performers who have played it over the last century would be too long to begin to list. When I was hired as music director at First Church in 2016, I knew right away that this was a very special organ but one that was desperately in need of intensive care. Wind leaks in the century-old windchests were louder than the softest stops on the organ. Dead notes compromised the … [Read more...]

November 2019 TAO Feature Article

Trinity Church in the City of Boston Skinner Organ Company Boston, Massachusetts Opus 573 -- 1926 Nave Organ Tonal Reconstruction Jonathan Ambrosino and Foley-Baker Inc. New Console Richard S. Houghten and J. Zamberlan & Co. View the Stop List Original Specification View the Current Stop List Page 1 View the Current Stop List Page 2 by Jonathan Ambrosino     Background H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church of 1877 was a one-building revolution in architecture. Hilborne Roosevelt’s Opus 29 aimed similarly high, being the niftiest bit of organ technology to arrive in Boston since the 1863 Music Hall Walcker. Stretching five stories, from basement water motors to attic Echo, this New York–built organ … [Read more...]

October 2019 TAO Feature Article

Covenant Presbyterian Church Scranton, Pennsylvania Patrick J. Murphy & Associates Stowe, Pennsylvania View the Stop List By Patrick J. Murphy The major renovation of this three-manual, 37-stop organ at Covenant Presbyterian Church recasts the existing 1960s-era Schlicker with a new Swell division, revoiced fluework, new chorus reeds, and a new PJM signature console. This follows what is now a typical project that retains the best of an organ’s existing assets, instilling new musical life within a given instrument with “good bones.” The project presented an opportunity to demonstrate what can be accomplished when everyone involved works together toward a common goal. Long held as the Scranton family … [Read more...]