November 2015 TAO Feature Article

Christ the King Catholic Church, Dallas, TX Juget-Sinclair Organbuilders, Montreal, Quebec By Stephen Sinclair An organ project is, by its nature, a long process—it can be helpful for organbuilders to reflect on the beginning once we’ve reached the end. We might forget, for example, that the project at Christ the King in Dallas was, for all intents and purposes, dead in the water for more than a year, for lack of a solution to the conundrum of how to successfully build a mechanical-action instrument out-of-chambers, without placing any weight on the balcony itself, or reducing space for the choir. It wasn’t an aha moment that led us to a solution. It was more a case of the elimination of doubt—as crazy as it seemed, we could see no … [Read more...]

October 2015 TAO Feature Article

St. John's Seminary, Brighton, MA Andover Organ Company, Lawrence, MA By Matthew M. Bellocchio When renovating a historic building, it is often necessary to strike a balance between preserving the original fabric and updating it to suit modern needs. When renovating century-old American organs, similar choices must often be made. A conservative restoration is the logical decision for an exemplary work by an important builder or a small organ in a rural church with modest musical requirements. But an aging instrument with unreliable mechanisms and limited tonal resources, in an active church or institution with a professional music program, requires a careful assessment of each of its existing components. This was the case with the … [Read more...]

September 2015 TAO Feature Article

First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC Holtkamp Organ Company, Cleveland, OH By Richard Parsons The Land of the Blue Smoke. That is the name the Cherokee Indians gave to the high plateau in western North Carolina. Lying at an altitude of roughly 3,000 feet, it is surrounded by six peaks, all of which have altitudes greater than 6,000 feet. The highest is Mount Mitchell, which at 6,683 feet is the highest peak in the eastern United States. The plateau itself covers nearly 1,000 square miles. At its center is the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad rivers. Near this confluence is Asheville, North Carolina. The first European settlers in the area arrived in 1784. First Presbyterian Church, founded in 1794, was known as … [Read more...]

August 2015 TAO Feature Article

Trinity Episcopal Church, Mobile, AL Goulding & Wood Organ Builders, Indianapolis, IN By Jason Overall Mobile, Alabama, saw severe, unusual weather on Christmas Day 2012, culminating in a destructive tornado. This Gulf Coast town, more accustomed to dealing with hurricanes, suddenly faced dealing with the precision damage unique to tornados. The storm's path led straight to the front doors of Trinity Episcopal Church, and the winds lifted the entire roof of the historic church building completely off the walls, setting it back at an angle. In the weeks that followed, the congregation struggled to recover from the emotional impact of the damage while also finding solace in the fact that, given the time of the storm, no one was in the … [Read more...]

July 2015 TAO Feature Article

United Church, Canandaigua, NY Parsons Pipe Organ Builders, Canandaigua, NY By Richard Parsons History Located in Upstate New York’s picturesque Finger Lakes region, United Church is situated in the heart of Canandaigua’s downtown historic district. The church was built in 1871 and dedicated in 1872 to house the newly formed First Presbyterian Church of Canandaigua. Constructed in the eclectic style of religious architecture common to the latter part of the 19th century, the edifice features a charming blend of Romanesque and Gothic Revival influences. On December 13, 1942, the neighboring First Baptist Church of Canandaigua was totally destroyed by fire. In 1947, First Presbyterian suggested that the two churches worship jointly … [Read more...]

June 2015 TAO Feature Article

Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Bryn Athyn, PA Kegg Pipe Organ Builders, Hartville, OH By Charles Kegg The Bryn Athyn Cathedral organ has been one of the most fascinating and challenging instruments in the history of the Kegg firm. The donor, Oberlin graduate and active Philadelphia organist Fred Haas, has always admired the work of Ernest Skinner. In the discussion of the new organ for the cathedral, all roads led to a recreation of Skinner’s work. We were asked to marry two modest E.M. Skinner organs, expand the combined instrument in Skinner style using new or vintage pipe work, and add a dramatic fourth manual division that complements the theology of the congregation and the dramatic building architecture— all while creating new … [Read more...]

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...]