June 2018 TAO Feature Article

SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral
Phoenix, Arizona
Peragallo Organ Company
Paterson, New Jersey

by John Peragallo IV

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“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
–Daniel Burnham

As organbuilders, we are uniquely privileged to experience many rewarding moments in the process of seeing a new pipe organ come to life. Those moments are all the more amplified when this process includes a vibrant ministry that will realize the full potential of the new instrument. From our first interactions with the staff and organ committee at the Cathedral of SS. Simon and Jude, we sensed that the pipe organ was going to serve as the cornerstone of sacred music within the Diocese of Phoenix. The pipe organ would need to musically support and visually complement a refreshingly unapologetic traditional ministry of sacred music. The organ’s timbres would need to function in both humble and glorifying ways to illuminate to the congregant the power through which chant, hymnody, and improvisation can reveal the sacred mystery.

We were immediately in awe of the unwavering faith of this congregation. People of all ages line around the church waiting to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; parishioners crawl on hands and knees down the middle aisle to beg forgiveness; there is a perpetual procession of groups gathering to recite the rosary—all attest to the tremendous faith of the people of this special place. The large cross that adorned the altar of Sun Devil Stadium during the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1987 is now a familiar beacon as you approach the cathedral. With this steadfast faith and this prominent cross as a starting point, we set out to design an organ to enrich this parish.

The organ’s tonal design is the collaborative effort of John Peragallo III, Mark Husey, consultant for the project, and Matthew Meloche, the director of sacred music at SS. Simon and Jude. The specification is in keeping with the tonal concepts and philosophies you can expect of a Peragallo instrument. Each division is tonally complete and features a wealth of foundation stops. The gallery casework showcases an unenclosed Grand-Orgue, expressive Positif and Récit divisions, and a substantial Pédale. An Antiphonal division provides pitch and accompaniment for the song leader and serves as a counterpoint to the Grand-Orgue. The Solo provides easy keyboard access to the chamades and a plethora of solo color.

Each division possesses not only the requisite tools one would expect to see but also several noteworthy perks.

At the urging of the consultant, we have included a manual Flûte Conique 32′ digital voice. The overall effect of adding this subtle flue to the chorus is most favorable in executing French music from both the Classical and Romantic schools. The Grand-Orgue is also equipped with softer accompanimental stops from the expressive divisions to offer a seamless crescendo and versatility in registration.

The Positif expressif houses the powerful Tromba Magna. This high-pressure reed, fitted with German tapered shallots that are modified with a straight bore, benefits from the extremely effective expression of the Positif chamber. When adding the Tromba to the chorus with the box closed, it can serve as bigger chorus reed. At full open, the Tromba broadens the Grand Jeu while not overpowering the balance of the ensemble.

Anthony and Frank Peragallo voicing pipework

Another notable inclusion is the large-scale 8′ Corno di Bassetto in the Récit division. Sitting alongside the traditional Hautbois and Trompette, this throaty color is available at 16 pitch on the Solo. The Récit also includes a Sept/Neuf (1 1 ∕ 7′ and 8 ⁄ 9′) that imparts a reedy shimmer to the full chorus and also serves as part of the collective Cornet à la neuvième VIII.

The versatile nature of the organ’s mechanism afforded the ability to create composite stops for the Solo division, such as the Grande Montre III, which is drawn from the three largest-scale Montre stops. Likewise, the Flûte majeure II, Flauto veneziano Celeste II, and Cor de Violes VII go one step in depth and volume beyond their divisional counterparts. The Solo provides access to two collective Cornets, as well as the Tromba Magna, at a variety of pitches.

Finally, the Solo offers access to several colorful reeds at pitches other than those found in their respective divisions. For example, the Chalumeau à cheminée sits well in the Positif chorus at 4′ pitch along with the Cromorne 8′ and the Cor anglais 16′. The Chalumeau and the Cor anglais are both available at 8′ pitch on the Solo.

The Pédale division holds four independent 32′ pitches of varying color and power, and the facade pipework includes both the Violone 16′ and Montre 16′. The Bombarde 16′ reeds are fitted with special bored German shallots.

The Trompette en chamade features English shallots with flared resonators in polished zinc splayed in a spectacular arrangement high in the casework.

The digital makeup of the floating Antiphonal insures that it will always be in tune with the gallery organ when called upon.

The design and fabrication of the organ’s casework was under the direction of Frank Peragallo. The design follows cues from the cathedral’s unique arches reflected in the doubly curving towers. The sightlines and hierarchies seek to elevate the eye upward.

The organ also features chamber wall designs borrowing from concepts developed for structurally insulated panels that are used in green building systems. These walls perform a double function of keeping the chamber temperatures even in the Arizona heat and creating a stark pianissimo effect when the expressions shades are closed. New techniques for racking were developed for the double curves within the towers and the Trompette en chamade.

The organ’s console design features curving detail gleaned from the organ casework and cathedral ecclesiastical appointments. The music desk incorporates a Southwest motif with inlay of three wood species—maple, oak, and cherry.

At the pinnacle of the casework, a hand-carved cherry Étoile Sonora (spinning star cymbelstern) adorns the case and rotates when activated. The star’s design represents the five charisms of Mary Ward, the five Loreto Sisters who founded the school, and the founding pastor, Father Paul Smith. The Loreto Sisters have faithfully served the Diocese of Phoenix since 1954.

After four months of engineering and planning and six months of fabrication, the organ was fully assembled at the factory in Paterson, New Jersey. An open house was held for the community before it was disassembled and loaded onto the truck for the four-day journey to Arizona.

Ten Peragallo employees flew to Phoenix for six weeks for the installation of the new organ. Each morning the crew drove from their outpost in Northern Phoenix to the cathedral, passing dozens of hot air balloons and witnessing the priceless morning sunrises of the greater Phoenix valley. It took only one week to rebuild the massive organ casework and chambers in the balcony. The console was placed on display on the main floor of the cathedral so parishioners could have a chance to view it before it was raised up to the balcony.

One week later, the initial sounds were heard and the four-week voicing process began. This culminated with the Blessing of the Organ by the Most Reverend Thomas James Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, on November 21, 2016. Four dedicatory recitals have been played since, featuring Paul Weber, organist, Trinity Episcopal Church, New Orleans; Mark Husey, organist, Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, California; Jonathan Ryan, organist, Christ Church, Greenwich, Connecticut; and Skye Hart, director of music at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, Phoenix.

This installation in Phoenix is our family’s first instrument west of the Mississippi since John Peragallo Sr. took the American Master Organ Company Opus 3 by rail to the Rialto Theatre in Butte, Montana, in 1917. One hundred years and 746 organs later, four members of the Peragallo family and ten craftsmen on our dedicated staff headed out across the country once more. We are proud to extend our tradition and look forward to building more instruments and reaching more parishes across the country in the years to come.

We are grateful for the support of Bishop Olmsted; the Very Reverend Father John Lankeit, cathedral rector; Matthew J. Meloche, director of sacred music; Mark Husey, consultant; Pam Lambros, parish stewardship and communications coordinator; the cathedral organ committee; and all those that supported the cathedral music initiatives and this project.

John Peragallo IV is architectural designer for Peragallo Organ Company.

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