May 2015 TAO Feature Article

Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Lake City, IA By Carl Smith When entering the Blair School’s Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall, concertgoers do not encounter a hall of memorably imposing architectural grandeur but rather a welcoming space whose warmth and general ambience contribute greatly to the extensive music making that takes place in it each year. A major factor in the experience of music in Turner Hall (both aurally and visually) is the wood that inconspicuously surrounds the listener yet confronts his or her every glance. When the decision was made to give the new organ’s case a traditional form, it was quickly decided that painting the case would not be suitable in … [Read more...]

April 2015 TAO Feature Article

Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc., Warrensburg, Missouri By T. Daniel Hancock The Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a striking study in early 20th-century French Classicism. Constructed from 1906 to 1915 in the best of the Beaux-Arts tradition, the building is sited atop Cathedral Hill, a commanding point overlooking the Mississippi River, where its dome, together with the nearby state capitol dome, constitute two of the most recognizable icons in the St. Paul skyline. The structure is the magnum opus of French-American architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray (1861–1917), who was also chief of design for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904. In addition to its status as … [Read more...]

March 2015 TAO Feature Article

St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, PA Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, Champaign, IL by John-Paul Buzard It has been a high honor to design and build this organ for the Basilica Church of St. Vincent Archabbey. The new gallery organ of 51 stops and 72 ranks of pipes was installed beginning in July 2014 and completed in October. St. Vincent is home to the oldest American Benedictine abbey, a parish, seminary, and St. Vincent College, a coeducational four-year institution. In 1998, I recommended replacement of the organ previously installed in the basilica. Mechanical failure spelled its demise; but it was only 30% as large as necessary to fill the building with sound and provide a generous variety of tone colors and volume levels to meet the … [Read more...]

February 2015 TAO Feature Article

Two-Manual Organs in Liturgical Settings By David C. Pike Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of The American Organist As 21st-century organbuilders we face the question of how to maintain our work as desirable, central, and perhaps imperative to our greatest patron—the Church. At the Fisk workshop, organbuilding is firmly rooted in proven building practices of the past, even as we strive to create instruments that will ensure the pipe organ’s continued role as a vital and relevant part of modern-day Christian worship. Our belief is that sensitive contextual visual design, deftly conceived mechanical key action, and attentive, historically informed voicing will best serve the requirements of sacred … [Read more...]

Carl G. Harris Jr.: Trailblazer in Choral Music

By Roy L. Belfield Jr. Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of The American Organist For 42 years, Carl G. Harris Jr. was the consummate choral conductor. His versatility as a musician too was masterful, and a matter of record. I met Harris in 1979, when he was a professor of music and choral director at Virginia State College (now University) in Petersburg, Virginia. A skilled organist, he was my first organ teacher, from 1980 to 1985. He became my mentor and longtime friend. Our close relationship afforded me an exclusive opportunity to reflect with him on his extensive career as choral conductor, music educator, organist, pianist, accompanist, lecturer, and church musician. Throughout his 57 years of … [Read more...]

January 2015 TAO Feature Article

Zion Lutheran Church, Baltimore MDPatrick J. Murphy & Associates Inc., Stowe, PA Zion Lutheran Church of the City of Baltimore is located directly across the square from City Hall, just a short walk from the celebrated Inner Harbor. This historic German congregation was founded in 1755 and obtained its first instrument from the celebrated Pennsylvania organbuilder David Tannenberg, who was paid £375, or $600 in “Pennsylvanisch money”—roughly three times the pastor’s annual salary. The original receipt survives today. Regrettably, the Tannenberg instrument was lost to a fire in March 1840 and was replaced with a Henry Knauff instrument of two manuals and 30 stops, which was rebuilt in 1924 by M.P. Möller. In 1959, a new Möller of … [Read more...]

December 2014 TAO Feature Article

The Kotzschmar Organ, Merrill Auditorium, City Hall, Portland, MEFoley-Baker Inc. Portland's Kotzschmar organ stands out as one of the most resilient of public organs, a foot soldier of front rank in the campaign of organ awareness. In the century between its 1912 dedication and its 2012 dismantling for renovation, Austin Opus 323 always played, often frequently. The original donor, publishing titan Cyrus H.K. Curtis, gave additional funds in 1927 for more stops and percussion. A municipal commission and city dollars established the position of municipal organist, with early prominent players including Will C. Macfarlane and Edwin H. Lemare. The organ’s first decades were not without contention, particularly during the Depression. … [Read more...]

November 2014 TAO Feature Article

Dahlgren Chapel, Georgetown University, Washington, DC Schoenstein & Co., San Francisco, CA In the heart of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., stands Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, built in 1893 and the gift of Sarah Dahlgren, whose husband was Admiral John Dahlgren. The Jesuit religious community that founded the university takes great pride in this chapel, which is the spiritual gathering place for Roman Catholic liturgies on the campus. In 2011, a renovation was launched to reinforce the chapel’s structural foundation and to preserve and enhance both its interior and exterior. The blessing of the renovated chapel took place in April 2014. I was pleased to serve as consultant in this project, assisting the … [Read more...]