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...]

September 2019 TAO Feature Article

Main Street United Methodist Church Abbeville, South Carolina Kegg Pipe Organ Builders Hartville, Ohio View the Stop List By Charles Kegg Working in the South has the advantage of a pleasant climate, but the main attraction is the people. Southern hospitality is real, and the folks at Main Street United Methodist Church certainly demonstrated this in great measure. When we first visited we found a handsome 19th-century Felgemaker case with ornately decorated pipes. Behind it was an ailing Möller built during the soft zinc era. Pipes were of thin metal and the zinc basses were sagging. While we are always happy to retain worthy pipes and chests from existing instruments, the only parts of the previous organ we thought … [Read more...]

August 2019 TAO Feature Article

Riverside Presbyterian Church Jacksonville, Florida R.A. Colby OrganBuilders Johnson City, Tennessee by Braden R. Colby View the Stop List As a company, we often find that the most fascinating part of our journey is the evolution of our projects. Rarely does the final instrument match the initial idea. Instead, the final product comes from a powerful mixture of our clients’ needs and desires, the organ’s environment, and our own expertise. Every project begins and ends with listening. From the first point of contact, we listen so that we can understand the needs, wants, and vision of the church. We also listen to the musicians and consultant about how other instruments have performed and how they would like the new one to differ. … [Read more...]

July 2019 TAO Feature Article

St. John's Episcopal ChurchLafayette, IndianaQuimby Pipe Organs Inc. Warrensburg, MissouriView the Stop List St. John’s Episcopal Church is a thriving parish located in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. Music has been an important focus of the parish since it was organized in 1836. Upon the completion of the present building in 1857, a secondhand 1853 Pilcher organ was first rented and later purchased. In 1889, the first paid choirmaster and choristers were engaged, and a men and boys’ choir “reorganized,” which continued until 1960. A new Pilcher was installed in 1890; this instrument was subsequently enlarged and electrified by Pilcher in the 1920s. In 1966, due to failing mechanisms and changing taste, a new two-manual, … [Read more...]