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Completed restorations in the news

Started by KB7DQH, July 16, 2010, 12:48:17 AM

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"Why did the Chicken cross the road?"

To prove to the 'possum that it could be done!

It took more than a year to refurbish the 94-year-old Walker pipe organ at St Mary's Church, which was used for the first time since its overhaul at the morning service on Sunday, May 29.

Tony Elliott and Patsy Roynon organised the project, which was funded by donations and without drawing on the finances of the church.

The repairs were carried out by JW Walker, a pipe organ builder based in Suffolk that made the organ in 1917.

Richard Lloyd, who plays the organ once a month, said: "It is good to have it back in use.

"Before we started the restoration work it was becoming very unreliable. It would play notes that were not wanted and then would not play the notes that were required.

"This was a lot of money to spend on one project in a church like this but the organ was badly in need of an overhaul and we expect that it will last for a long time, so it is an investment.

"We plan to have a celebration concert later in the year and all those who have contributed will be invited to thank them for their support."

Andy Ferguson, lay minister at St Mary's, said: "To compare the organ to a car, the whole thing has been dismantled and rebuilt. A console, located in the main part of the church, has also been built, so the organist can see the congregation and be part of the mass.

"This allows for a modern form of worship. Previously, the organist was stuck away under the organ and was not really part of what was going on.

"People who really appreciate organ music will know the difference but this organ also has a heritage — money was raised to build it during the First World War."

In 2008, after it was clear age had taken its toll on the organ, it was decided to buy a £30,000 digital organ to replace it.

However, in May 2009 it was decided to repair the Walker organ instead. A digital organ was used as a temporary measure while the work took place. This will now be sold.

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."



Cynique makes some interesting points - but I think we need a little realism.  From what I heard, the firm were hit hard by Andrew Pennel's death.  Secondly, these days Walker's is a relatively small firm - a quick look at the IBO directory shows 6 employees, so you can't expect them to have the presence in the market of, say, Mander or Harrisons.  Thirdly, websites - especially organ builders' websites - are rarely a true indication of what's going on in a company.  Certain organ builders don't even have a web presence - even Nicholson's had no more than a basic web page until quite recently.  I suspect that earning money and working on organs is a rather higher priority to organ builders than designing and maintaining websites!

I've recently put together a web site for my church - it takes a surprising amount of time - and professional expertise in web design costs money.  Organ building has traditionally been a trade where arguably most advertising is by word of mouth.

As to the organs you mention - don't forget that the customer's views may well influence what can or can't be done - organ building is a business, not a hobby, and the adage that "the customer is always right" holds true there as in all other commercial enterprises.

As to to current work, they seem to be as busy as any other comparable firm - the latest issue of the IBO journal "Organ Building 10" lists in their advertisement no less than 4 significant rebuilds/restorations - 2 in the UK, 1 in Ireland and one in the USA.  Add to that their normal tuning & maintenance contracts and I see no reason to question their viability - especially in the current economic climate.

Your comments about voicing are a red herring - there are specialist voicers about who work for several firms - David Fostick springs to mind, but there are others.  In these days, the smaller firms don't have to have specialists in every discipline as employees.  And finally, who on earth would want to build a new organ with any form of pneumatic action?  Aside from the tracker specialists, virtually every organ builder uses solid-state controls from one of a handful of suppliers (including Solid State Organ Systems who are near neighbours of Walker's in Brandon)  and electro-pneumatic, or rarely direct-electric actions. 

Have a good day

Every Blessing



I bring these news stories  to the attention of the forum for the express purpose of providing evidence that parishes can and do make decisions which benefit the cause of pipe organ preservation... in the hopes that others will do likewise. ;) 

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

Colin Pykett

I agree with everything in the substance of Tony's post.  Just one or two minor points though:

I was surprised myself that Walker's website was 'parked' for so long, as this can send a dangerously wrong message.  I recall another forum member remarking recently that Musicom's site seems to be in a similar situation but couldn't easily find the post just now.  However, having just checked, it is also apparently 'parked'.  Tony said that "earning money and working on organs is a rather higher priority to organ builders than designing and maintaining websites".  This might be so for some, but it is a sadly mistaken belief in my view.  A website is a well worthwhile and fairly modest business expense which any firm neglects to see as an investment at their peril.  I say this with such emphasis because of experience with my own.  I am not selling anything and my site exists purely as a shop window for my interests.  Nevertheless, I think it is merely stating a fact that it has put my name all over the internet.  Therefore if I was in business and I did not have this degree of exposure I would probably have lost out on an untold amount of enquiries at best, and turnover at worst.

Tony also said "aside from the tracker specialists, virtually every organ builder uses solid-state controls from one of a handful of suppliers".  I apologise for pulling him up on this because he will probably agree with me that even tracker organs often use electric (solid state) combination systems and/or couplers.  Therefore I am actually strengthening his argument here.

Colin Pykett

Barry Williams

Perhaps Voix Cynique would let us know exactly how many of the organs mentioned he has personally heard or played.

Also, it must be borne in mind that the organ builder was, in at least one case named in VC's post, required to work to the direction of a 'consultant' who had very particular views.  (This has happened on a number of occasions.)  It may not, therefore, be fair to lay the blame for a compromise or less than satisfactory result at the door of the organ builder.

What, please, are 'electronically-assisted mixed-up actions'?  Most firms use solid state because it is better in every respect and has proved, when installed correctly, more reliable.  As far as I know, no-one uses switch stacks these days.

Barry Williams



I have yet to play a pneumatic action that I'd be totally happy with.  Maybe I'm over-sensitive to timing issues, but none has been as good as tracker (and nor have many electro-pneumatic actions that I've played).  Pneumatic action is no more or less reliable than electro-pneumatic - and, to my mind, is a needless backward step in technology (although I do appreciate that historic restorations do need to retain pneumatics).  Since I've moved up to Yorkshire, I've come across a fair few Binns jobs of various sizes, and in various states of repair.  Many have been rebuilt with EP action - arguably for the good of future maintenance.

Turning now to tracker - most of the organs that you mention are very heavily used - they are not typical church organs, but are played every day - and often for long periods of time.  I doubt that any other action type would last better - and undoubtedly, tracker gives a better feel and playing experience (although it's not always the most appropriate choice).

Solid State technology has been around for over 50 years - and has been applied to organs for at least 30.  Agreed, the total life is still something of an unknown, but my concern would be the use of parts that may well become unobtainable in the future - but even then, it's hardly a difficult job to slot in a new transmission system when the time comes.  At least solid-state pipe organ actions don't use the specialist analogue IC's that have been the downfall of certain electronic organs.  SS transmission should at least last for 30-40 years - by which time any organ is likely to be in need of cleaning and refurbishment - and if not tracker - a complete action overhaul if it's heavily used.

Every Blessing

P.S. I played an electro-pneumatic job on Sunday - detached console as well - and it served to remind me quite firmly why I prefer tracker action and attached consoles!

Jonathan Lane

An interesting discussion, and several points not addressing.

Firstly, websites.  I agree with Tony that websites take a while to set up, and even longer to learn the skills if you wish to achieve something more than basic text.  However, I also agree with Colin, that the time taken, and the skills learnt (and most people can learn them) are worth every penny of investment in money and minute in time.  Presence in the market place for us relies a great deal on our website as we are the 'new kids on the block' so to speak.  That is not to say we do not get much work by word of mouth, as we do, however most people these days here of a company and look them up on the internet.  A holding page gives the wrong message.  We operate modern business practices, and are first and foremost a commercial company that ultimately is out to make a profit.  That doesn't mean we don't take care in the musical, artistic and technical aspects of the organs we work on, new and existing, actually precisely the opposite.

On to actions.  I totally agree with Tony, I have yet to play a pneumatic action I am happy with.  A number of organs with tubular pneumatic action have been almost impossible to play.  Electro-pneumatic organ fares better, however, I used to play a Binns in the 1990's which was sluggish, unreliable and very difficult to play anything fast on.  My preferred options is always tracker (even for a house organ, which I suspect Barry Williams and I will disagree on!), but if not tracker, solid state.  Don't let pneumatics near an organ!  As for solid state's reliability, I see no issue.  One firm at least, Musicom, I'm not so sure of the others as we do not use them, uses a system of standard cards which are interchangeable and easily replaced if there is a fault.  The Musicom system is software driven, and therefore easy to maintain with a laptop!

Other electric actions over the years have proved unreliable, however, one firm produced significant and reliable actions using old fashioned technology, which in most cases still works.  That firm was Compton.  Their systems were easy to maintain, and consequently reliability was usually expected for 30-40 years before any work need be done.  Holy Trinity Hull, despite having a failing action is working on 1937 electrics, and actually remarkably large amounts of it are still working seeing it has gone more than twice its expected life!

Voicing - well, firstly, voicing is seriously objective.  Some people like FW, others like R&D, still more like Hill and others Walker.  Most organ builders had their own 'style' of voicing which to some extent gave their organs their character.  This was fine for much of the twentieth century, and often organ builders were allowed to get on with their job, you bought an organ because you liked the organ builders character and style.  This is still true, but tempered by the significant input these days from organ advisers, both diocesan and independent.  I am not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I think it is both, sometimes at the same time.  We have had experience of organ advisers coming in with such a fixed idea that the desire of the church is not met, rather the view of the organ adviser, who will neither play the instrument or experience it weekly in worship.  Neither of course, will the organ builder, however, in our case, and a number of other builders, I am firstly an organist, who has worked in churches with choirs, without choirs and in cathedrals, so know what works with an organ and what doesn't.  Before everyone shouts, but doesn't that mean my own fixed ideas are foisted on the church!  Well maybe they are!, although I would argue my ideas are far from fixed, or narrow in any sense.  We as a business work to our clients desires, to enable the client to achieve what they feel is perfect for them, and if we achieve that we are delighted, if not, we do not hold ourselves to ransom over it, as sometimes the requirements of churches is almost impossible to achieve: 'We've got a space 10 foot by 6 foot, we'd like a four manual 64 speaking stop organ, with three 32's!'  Obviously fictional!

Specifically back to voicing and how organs sound, we removed an organ from a church a few years ago (to be replaced by an electronic), which was badly placed and sounded poor.  The organ was a 19th century Walker, and the pipework is very fine, and sounds superb in a good acoustic, as good as anything Walker's did during the period.  Environment and acoustics are everything, pretty much any pipework will sound good in the right environment, and excellent pipework sounds amazing!!

Apologies for the long post!


Colin Pykett

Sorry to be jumping in yet again.  It's actually because I've just spent most of the last hour watching a PC that hasn't been used for a month or more updating itself, to my infinite frustration.  Now that it seems to have finally ground back to life, it automatically logged into the last web page I was viewing for some reason - this forum!

Anyway, I found Jonathan's expert insight into these matters such good reading that I thought it worth saying so.  Not only is he a practising organ builder with a realistic view of today's business practices, but he is also a professionally qualified musician.  Unlike most of the rest of us on this forum I suspect, he reflects expertise rather than opinion.  Just a very quick one on websites though, one doesn't necessarily have to do them oneself - small web design companies will rustle you up a simple one for a few hundred pounds.  I know this because my son does it from time to time.  I shouldn't have thought this sort of figure seems a lot to invest in one's company, particularly as it would presumably be tax-deductible as a business expense

Colin Pykett

Barry Williams

"My preferred options is always tracker (even for a house organ, which I suspect Barry Williams and I will disagree on!), but if not tracker, solid state. "

Jonathan and I are at one on this, though I agree with Voix Cynique that there are a needless (and disappointingly) large number of unsatisfactory modern tracker actions around, some of which have had to be replaced in a relatively short space of time.  Tracker action is fine for a small organ.  However, it does carry one disadvantage in the home: the relationship of the soundboard to the keys is fixed forever, unless one is prepared to contemplate significant expenditure.  That is why, for our house organ, we chose solid state/direct electric action, for we will will be moving at some point and will almost certainly have to re-configure the instrument.

I disagree strongly with Voix Cynique about pneumatic actions.  Having been involved with a couple of historic restorations of pneumatic action, (both paid for on condition that they were historically restored), I would have preferred modern electro-pneumatic exhaust action, with solid state switching.

Jonathan is right about using the correct pipework.  We took immense trouble over selecting pipes from one instrument only for our house organ, so as to maintain the integrity of the voicing.  Frequently organs sound as what they are - a conglomeration of differing bits added on, often (and most inappropiately),  'neo-baroque' material on a romantic Choir Organ in the 1960s.  It is the tonal equivalent of Singapore Fried Noodles with Yorkshire Pudding!

Barry Williams

Barry Williams

This is a public forum.  All the posts can be easily read by non-members and misquoted, possibly for mischief.  For this reason discretion is required of all participants.

On the question of generalisations, it is always wise to state,  for example, one's particular experience of an organ, or musical performance, as the case may be.  Thus one might say "I heard Mr XXXX play at YYY cathedral last week and, as on the previous occasions I heard him, found the playing dry and wooden, because......."  Likewise, one might say, "I have heard and played (mention the organs by name) by XXXX organ builder and find the neo-classical/romantic (or whatever) voicing of them all unconvincing because....., though many people seem to like it."  In this way readers can evaluate the criticism by reference to the writer's personal knowledge of the organ/player/situation concerned. 

Comments derived from the experience of others are best reported as such so that, again they can be evaluated in context.  Voix Cynique's comments about two organs appeared, at first glance, to be based on personal knowledge and experience.  I challenged that and we learned it was merely part of someone else's conversation.  As Tony pointed out, there may be very good reasons why the organ builder in question constructed the instrument as he did.  We do not know about that and as the matter was left, it was unfair to the organ builder, in the particular case, one who is no longer able to defend himself.

There have been signficant difficulties on other Boards from general comments made without first-hand knowledge.  Let us hope that this will not happen here.

Barry Williams



Thanks to moderators for assisting with a certain member's comments. The member concerned might raise alarm bells in his mind whenever he has the urge to mention a family member. I am considering blocking access to the forum from Blackberry devices as possibly contributions made on the move might not be intellectually best considered. If anyone would object to this, please let it be known.

Member Voix Cynique raises a very valid issue with respect to a disquiet about electronic actions and their life expectancy equating with that of electronic organs. Instruments such as St Paul's Cathedral come to mind particularly but the technical requirements of siting often give no option, leaving electronic communications as a useful tool which we can't do without.

However, in view of the use to which university college organs are put on a continuous and virtuosic basis, in reality thinking about it, it's a great credit to the mechanical action of the Reiger at Oxford that it has survived over 30 years of such intensive use. One should expect rods with leather, cloth and plastic bushes to have their bushings replaced after long periods of heavy use just as a vehicle requires steering and suspension bushes to be replaced long before the finality of the life expectancy of the vehicle.

A very good example of electrical assistance was shown to members of the Surrey Organists' Association on Monday night by organ builder Matthew Copley who maintains the Frobenius at Kingston. This is tracker with the resilience and longevity that that provides supplemented by electrical assistance to couplers.

Best wishes

Forum Admin


Was it perhaps a system manufactured by... ???

It was used extensively in this new organ...,85.0.html

and described briefly here,86.msg230.html#msg230


The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."



I doubt it - since the Frobenius only has electrical assist on the couplers, I suspect that it's just conventional magnets somewhere in the action.  I know Laukhuft produce an action magnet specifically for adding to tracker action - primarily to provide for detached consoles when that's a requirement.  Some tracker organs even have the option of mechanical or electrical couplers!

The system that KB7DQH mentions looks at a quick glance to be some sort of servo setup - Willis floating level pneumatic anyone?  I think I've seen ads from SSL Organ Systems for something broadly similar.

Every Blessing



Malta seems to be a "hotbed" of organ restoration activity based on what one of their newspapers
has been reporting as of late...

Print Email
Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 19:20 , by
George Cini
150-year-old pipe organ regains its fabulous voice


A 150-year-old organ housed at the Maria Regina parish church in Marsa has just been restored.

The restoration by Brian Bugeja, which took three years to complete is to be inaugurated at the parish church on Thursday at 6 p.m. The inauguration ceremony will include a concelebrated Mass led by Mgr Charles Cordina.

The pipe organ will be played by Dr Mro Dion Buhagiar and by Mr Bugeja himself. Also taking part will be the resident choir at St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the Collegium Musicum.

For Mr Bugeja, the past three years were taken up with the restoration of the wind chest, the console – which was practically built from scratch – the pneumatic reservoir (bellows), also built from scratch, the stops and the wooden pipes.

"The pipe organ at the Maria Regina parish church in Marsa is one of the few that still works with a wind motor. Others have been left to deteriorate and, in some of them, the wind motor was replaced by an electric one", Mr Bugeja said.

The original drive which was made of lead has been replaced by another material. The lead drive had a small diameter which meant that it did not supply enough wind and the slightest leakage of air resulted in failure to play the note. This would not happen with the new wider pipes.

An accomplished musician and former drydocks engineer, Mr Bugeja had done most of the metal work and woodwork himself. He studied organ building and restoration techniques at the Oberlinger factory in Mainz, Germany and George Sixsmith & Son in Manchester, UK.

The organ was originally at the Immaculate Conception church in Burnt Oak, London. It was bought by Fr Valent Calleja in 1982 when he was parish priest in Marsa.

Current parish priest Fr Paul Bugeja said the parishioners were looking forward to hear the organ being played during Thursday's inauguration.

And there are several links available from the page linked to above regarding similar activity...


No surprise the Maltese are looking for quality instruments...


The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


Samford University will celebrate the renovation and rededication of the Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ in Reid Chapel.

Today at 2:30 p.m., four organists will perform on the instrument, which was enhanced and refurbished by the Quimby Pipe Organ Company of Warrensburg, Mo. It was reinstalled last month.

The instrument, which was first completed in 1962, is dedicated to the memory of Jane Laroque Slaughter Hardenbergh, the Samford organ professor who chose Aeolian-Skinner to build the instrument in the 1950s Parts of other vintage Aeolian-Skinner instruments, including a triangle flute from the Independent Presbyterian Church, have been rescued and included in the renovation.

Organists at today's concert are Samford University organist James Dorroh, music student Joshua Bullock and alumni Sarah Heaslett and Charles Kennedy. Admission is free.

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


Much more than a mere "restoration"... more like building up an entirely new instrument around pipework from an old one with enhancements and additional new pipework?  Could this really be considered a "new instrument" ??? ??? ???

QuoteHistoric city church completed, with an organ, after 106 years
September 19, 20110 comments

Press Release – St Matthew in the City
After 106 years, St Matthew-in-the-City is finally completed. The loft constructed to hold organ pipes has never been filled until now. Henry Willis & Sons has finished installing a pipe organ that has been in construction in their Liverpool factory since April 2008. While like a new instrument, it is a major enhancement and restoration of the historical Father Willis organ that served the original wooden church that preceded the present stone church.

It has been a labour of love by David Wyld, Managing Director of Henry Willis & Sons, who said of it, "It was our intent to build the finest church organ in New Zealand if not the Southern Hemisphere. We think we have succeeded."

Vicar Glynn Cardy said, "After years of dreaming and raising funds for its construction, it is an immense joy to hear its brilliant sound fill the sanctuary. We are eternally grateful to the many who have been involved to make this day happen. We are especially indebted to the ASB Trust, Southern Trust, the Lottery Grants Board and The Lion Foundation for their grants that made this possible."

Michael C.W. Bell, St Matthew's organist and Director of Music, could hardly contain his excitement, "It feels like the Christmas of all Christmases"

While the organ can be used at church services, it will not be ready for a public recital for about six months. Mr Wyld explains, "With an instrument as complex as this, it takes that long for it to settle in and work out the kinks."

While its full potential will not be realised for a while, Mr Cardy announced, "The organ will be dedicated on 25 September, the Feast of St Matthew, at the 10:00am service. At the same time we will dedicate the historic St Thomas Chapel and new kitchen that were part of this overall project."

St Thomas Chapel began as the chapel on a missionary ship that served Melanesia from 1903 to 1932. When the Southern Cross V sank in Waitemata Harbour, the chapel was rescued and became the Lady Chapel at St Thomas', Freeman Bay. When St Thomas' was torn down for the motorway leading to the Harbour Bridge, it was stored in the crypt of St Matthew's where it stayed for the next 45 years. Under the guidance of Salmond Reed Architects it has been carefully reconstructed in the south transept as it was on board the Southern Cross.

The new kitchen replaces the one that had to be removed to make room for the 32-foot pipes that are part of the enhancement of the historic organ.

The public is invited to attend the dedication. To mark the occasion, Michael Bell has composed "Mass for the Patronal Feast." It will be sung for the first time at the service by the St Matthew Ensemble, under the direction of Dmitry Rusakov, the Associate Director of Music.

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


And they funded the addition of 13 stops to the original instrument...

QuoteFundraising drive is music to the ears

Friday concert; Dorval parish restores 1958 pipe organ

By CHERYL CORNACCHIA, The Gazette September 28, 2011

The Anglican Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark in Dorval has surprised itself once again - this time raising close to $300,000 to restore its Casavant pipe organ from 1958.

After months of painstaking work, including a new facade of gleaming pipes visible just behind the altar, the already impressive 52-year-old Casavant is in better musical shape than ever.

The public will now get a chance to hear the recently rebuilt instrument. The city of Dorval is sponsoring an inaugural concert at the church on Lakeshore Drive on Friday evening.

"We're getting tremendous feedback," said Bruce Wheatcroft, a lay reader at the church and one of the many church members behind the restoration effort.

With close to 1,000 pipes, the instrument's already considerable range has been enhanced with 13 stops, the so-called stopperlike apparatus that restricts wind blowing through the pipes, the majority of which are concealed in a chamber behind the organ's facade, in order to create additional sets of sounds.

"Listen there," Wheatcroft said, as church organist Bill Hutton played a succession of notes on the organ's keyboard. The corresponding pipes resonated with a soft shimmering sound akin to strings.

"We didn't have that sound before," he said. "We wanted to add a variety of new colours to the organ's musical palette."

The more than $300,000 in restoration work was done over the winter by St. Hyacinthe-based Orgues Létourneau Ltée., which like Frères Casavant, the organ's original Quebec builders, are world renowned.

Létourneau organs can be found in, among other places, the chapel in the Tower of London, Cambridge University's Selwyn College and Edmonton's Winspear Centre for the Performing Arts.

The concert on Friday night marks the first time the organ's full abilities will be showcased, said Wheatcroft.

Although the organ was reinstalled in the church back in April and blessed by Montreal's Anglican Bishop Barry Clarke on Easter Sunday, its repertoire has been limited to mostly hymns, up until now.

"It has wonderful sound, more soft and gentle now," said Barbara Black, another parishioner. "We've surprised ourselves," she added. "I guess success breeds success."

A few years ago, Black explained, the congregation voted to install geothermal heat pumps, no small investment, in order to cut its heating costs. This time, she said, the congregation took a risk on the organ.

"We stretched ourselves," said Wheatcroft. "We're looking ahead. We had the gift of the (first) instrument from 1958 and we want to make sure future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy the organ."

Duo Majoya, aka Marnie Giesbrecht and Joachim Segger, two renowned Alberta organists, are scheduled to play a wide-ranging program of traditional and original music in an inaugural concert Sept. 30, at 7: 30 p.m., at the Anglican Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark, 865 Lakeshore Drive. Although free, seating is limited to 300. Contact the church at 514-631-3601 for tickets.

Tonight, Andrew Forrest and Sylvain Létourneau from Orgues Létourneau will give a fee bilingual lecture on the recent restoration of the organ at St. Andrew and St. Mark. The lecture takes place at the Dorval Library at 7: 30 p.m. as part of the Montreal Architectural Heritage Campaign.

Read more:

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


A CELEBRATION of harvest will be staged to mark the unveiling of the newly restored pipe organ at St Paul's Church in Whiteshill, Stroud.

The Rt Rev John Went, Bishop of Tewkesbury, will attend to bless the historic instrument during a special service from 10.30am on Sunday, October 2.

This is preceded by an evening of music courtesy of the Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir at the church tomorrow, Friday, September 30, at 7.30pm.

Both events will also celebrate resident organist Pat Middleton's 60 years of recitals and those who attend can get their hands on a specially commissioned 56-page booklet detailing the history of St Paul's and the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Entrance to the events and a copy of the booklet is free to parishioners.

The Rev Brian Woollaston, vicar of both churches, said it was encouraging to see the Whiteshill and Paganhill communities come together to help renovate the organ, which dates back to 1876.

QuoteVisiting bishop blesses restored church organ

2:20pm Tuesday 4th October 2011

    By Nick Wakefield
WORSHIPPERS at St Paul's Church in Whiteshill, Stroud, welcomed the Rt Rev John Went, Bishop of Tewkesbury, to bless its recently restored historic pipe organ.

A special 'celebration of harvest' service was held at the church on Sunday, October 2, to mark the blessing and give thanks for the 60 years service of resident organist Pat Middleton.

Art displays depicting the festivals of harvest, Easter and Pentecost were created especially by pupils at Whiteshill Primary, Callowell Primary and Archway schools and parishioners were each given free 56-page booklets about the history of St Paul's Church and the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Securing a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and months of tireless fundraising enabled the congregation to ask organ restorer Keith Jones to rebuild the intricate instrument, which dates back to 1876.

Rev Brian Woollaston, vicar of St Paul's Church and the Church of the Holy Spirit, said: "It has been most encouraging to see the part the community has played in helping this project to be achieved."


The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


QuoteHistoric organ at Denver's St. John's Cathedral to be rededicated after big restoration

Kyle MacMillan
The Denver Post
Posted: 11/04/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 11/04/2011 02:34:23 AM MDT

The pipe organ might seem like a Victrola in an MP3 world, but the venerable instrument is actually enjoying something of a renaissance.

International concert halls have competed in the past decade to top one another with multimillion-dollar organs, none a bigger hit than the massive 2004 instrument in Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Capitalizing on that popularity, St. John's Episcopal Cathedral raised $1.6 million for a 21/2-year restoration of its 1938 Kimball organ — a process that will culminate with a sold-out rededication and concert at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The instrument — with its 5,949 pipes ranging in size from about that of a drinking straw to 32 feet in height, is among about 400 American organs designated as having exceptional historic merit by the Organ Historical Society.

"Organs like this just aren't built anymore," said Stephen Tappe, St. John's organist and director of music. "To replace it with a new organ of a similar size would have cost more than we spent to restore it.

"And by restoring it, we preserve a piece of history and a certain type of beauty that just isn't being done anymore, because of the style of organs has changed and the cost of materials has just gone sky-high."

The invention of the pipe organ is credited to Ctesibius, an engineer in third-century B.C. Alexandria, and the instruments became widespread in churches beginning in the 10th century.

The W.W. Kimball Co. of Chicago started building pipe organs in 1891, and records show that it installed 7,326 such instruments in the United States and abroad before stopping production in the late '30s.

"In many ways, Kimball wasn't recognized as they should have been in the church-organ scene," said Joseph Rotella , the principal of the Waltham, Mass.,-based Spencer Organ Co., which oversaw the instrument's cleaning and reconditioning.

"One of the reasons is that they built all kinds of organs, and that kind

Reinstalling St. John's restored organ in its cramped four-story chamber above the nave was like "putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together inside a box." (Andy Cross | The Denver Post)
of put them out of favor with many traditional church organists."

Donated in memory of former Denver mayor Platt Rogers by his daughter, St. John's instrument was part of the 1920s and '30s heyday of American symphonic organs. They were designed to emulate the instruments in an orchestra, with this one having stops (essentially sound adjustors) that suggest English horns, French horns and stringed instruments.

The organ has the last four-level keyboard Kimball built, and, unlike many instruments of that period, it has not been modified or updated.

"Part of that is due to the fact that is one of the most crammed-in organs we have ever worked on," Rotella said.

Barely visible from the main part of the church, the organ is located in a cramped, three-story chamber along one wall of the nave. The space would normally have housed only 70 ranks of pipes, but Kimball squeezed in 96. Because the pipes were so tightly packed, the reinstallation, which began in January and culminated this week with last-minute adjustments, proved unusually challenging.

"It's like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together inside a box," Rotella said.

When the restored organ is first heard publicly Saturday evening, it will sound different to longtime cathedral attendees. What they won't hear is much of the noise that resulted from air escaping from old, cracked tubing.

"What they will hear is something that is fresh," Rotella said. "With the organ sitting here for 70 years, it pretty much became covered in a layer of dust, and that's like throwing a giant sweater on top of it."

Kyle MacMillan: 303-954-1675 or

St. John's Episcopal Cathedral Organ Recital Series

To celebrate the $1.6 million restoration and reinstallation of the Platt Rogers pipe organ at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington St., the church is sponsoring a series of recitals running through June 2012.

Paul Jacobs, 8 p.m. Saturday (sold out). Jacobs, chairman of the organ department at the Juilliard School and one of the country's best-known organists, won a Grammy Award this year.

Paul Prieto Ramirez, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18. Ramirez, the first organist-in-residence at the Auditorio Nacional de Musica in Madrid, Spain, has a series of popular performances on YouTube.

Joseph Galema, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20. Galema serves as director and organist at the Air Force Academy and is a member of the faculty at the University of Denver.

Lyn Loewi, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27. A freelance Denver musician, she serves as organist for the cathedral's Schola Cantorum.

Richard Robertson, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10. Robertson is the cathedral's assistant organist.

Benjamin Sheen, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17. Sheen, senior organ scholar at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, maintains an international solo career.

Michael Unger, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 (hosted by Boulder Bach Festival). Unger, winner of two organ competitions, has recordings on the Naxos and Pro Organo labels.

Christophe Mantoux, 7:30 p.m. March 2. Mantoux is a winner of the first prize in interpretation at the Chartres International Organ Competition.

Alan Dominicci, 7:30 p.m. March 16. Dominicci was a student of famed French organists Andre Marchal and Jean-Jacques Grunenwald.

Joyce Shupe Kull, 7:30 p.m. April 27. Kull is director of music and organist at Grace Lutheran Church in Boulder.

Christopher Houlihan, 7:30 p.m. June 15 and 16. Houlihan performs the complete organ symphonies of Louis Vierne​.

All performances are free except for Unger's recital on Feb. 24. It is $30, $10 students and $5 children. 800-838-3006 or

Recital series information: 303-577-7717 or

And according to the following article, the sold-out rededication recital was most successful...

Soloist Paul Jacobs, Denver church's newly restored pipe organ both wonderful
By Kyle MacMillan
The Denver Post
Posted: 11/06/2011 01:00:00 AM MST

Sometimes the best new things are old. That was certainly the case Saturday evening, as St. John's Episcopal Cathedral unveiled and rededicated its newly restored 1938 Kimball pipe organ.

The massive 5,949-pipe instrument, designated as having exceptional historic merit by the Organ Historical Society, underwent a 2½-year cleaning and rehabilitation by the Waltham, Mass.-based Spencer Organ Co.

To celebrate the completion of that $1.6 million project, a sold-out audience got the first opportunity Saturday to hear the old organ anew during a spellbinding recital by Grammy Award-winning soloist Paul Jacobs.

Put simply, the organ sounded wonderful — clear, full-throated and superbly tuned, with a rich, panoramic sound.

To show it off, Jacobs presented a program of often little-known works. Inside of the musical fireworks typically expected at the beginning of a concert of this kind, he opened with Edward Elgar​'s understated Sonata in G major, Op. 28.

The organist offered a probing, reflective and moving take on this work, which offered abundant opportunities for nuanced tonal shadings that revealed both Jacobs' artistry and the beauty of this symphonic organ. To liven things up, he closed the first half with a spirited version of Elgar's best-known work, at least in this country: "Pomp and Circumstance."

To start the second half, Jacobs again had another surprise in store — the virtually unknown Suite for Organ by African-American composer Florence Beatrice Price.

A kind of "Rhapsody in Blue" for the organ, this piece is tinged with sounds of the blues and spirituals, and Jacobs seemed right at home in its idiomatic style.

Johann Sebastian Bach​ is almost a must on an organ concert, and the remaining lineup included Jacobs' first-rate version of the composer's Trio Sonata No. 4 in E minor, with its devilishly difficult, three-line counterpoint.

Kyle MacMillan: 303-954-1675 or


The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."


This story could have had a much different end :o


Quote    Published on November 3, 2011
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Topics :
    Summerside Presbyterian Church , Casavant Bros. , Trinity United Church , Victoria Road , Quebec , Charlottetown

When members of Summerside Presbyterian Church decided to build a new building on Victoria Road, their biggest concern was the fate of their beloved 1906 Casavant two-keyboard, 18-stop pipe organ.

The instrument had been a cherished part of the congregation for over 100 years.

But the cost of dismantling it, storing it and then restoring and reinstalling it in the new church building, in addition to fundraising for the building, was overwhelming.

"In the budget, that there wasn't sufficient funds to bring the organ along," says Leonard Russell, chair of the building committee.

So as the date for the demolition of the old building neared this past February, the congregation made the decision to let the organ go.

"People left the congregational meeting with heavy hearts and everyone expressing their unhappiness," he says.

But then something extraordinary happened.

Just a few days before the building was to be torn down, a group decided they couldn't see the organ destroyed.

"Members of the congregation stepped up to the plate and said the organ must go (to the new building) and they would raise the additional money," he says.

The decision to keep the organ led to changes in the design of the sanctuary.

"That's because at that point we weren't thinking that we were going to have exposed pipes or a place for the organ itself," he says.

Last winter, Robert Hiller, a craftsman from Casavant Bros. in Quebec, was hired to start the work.

"With help from church volunteers we were able to dismantle the organ in four days.

"We put the pipes in boxes and moved them into storage," says Hiller.

Then when he came back this past September the same volunteers cleaned the pipes and the mechanisms.

"Next we assembled it and then I tuned and painted it. We're back this week to fix a few odds and ends — especially the last stop that will require a number of adjustments to make it stable," says Hiller, who was at the church earlier this week.

Watching the pieces of the project come together is exciting for Pam Campbell, organist at the church for the past five years.

"The organ is a symbol of the positive collective energy of the congregation. When I played it for the first time this past Sunday everyone applauded afterwards," says Campbell who, with Nancy Beck, has volunteered to establish and program a Sunday afternoon performance series to celebrate the congregation's new life in the new building.

Another person who is thrilled about the new organ is Don Fraser, music director at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown and the Confederation Centre of the Arts, who will be featured in Pulling Out All the Stops, a concert on Nov. 13 at 2:30 p.m.

"I'm excited about playing a full concert on an organ with such an incredible history," says Fraser.

That's because when the organ was built in 1906, the company was in its infancy.

"It seems that this one was actually built by the original brothers . . . It's amazing when you think that their hands were likely on it," says Fraser, who will play selections from the Bach repertoire at the concert.

Back at the church Hiller is putting the finishing touches on the organ.

"It looks nice and fits the space really well . . . . I'm pleased," he says.

Hiller also credits the architect for taking his suggestion and adding double layers of drywall to create a superb sound.

"Fifty per cent of a pipe organ's sound depends on acoustics.If you have bad acoustics it doesn't matter what kind of instrument you have, it's not going to have any life. As a result, the organ speaks well in this building.

"The church has done a great job."

SPC Sundays

If you are going

What: SPC Sundays concert series at Summerside Presbyterian Church.

Make a Joyful Noise: A hymn sing featuring accompanist Mark Ramsay with guest soloist Anders Balderston is Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m.

Pulling Out All the Stops: An organ concert with Don Fraser is Nov. 13, 2:30 p.m.

Peace, Love, and Lots of Harmonies: A concert with Montague Regional High School choirs is Nov. 20, 2:30 p.m.

Students in Sing: A concert by the UPEI Music Society is Nov. 27, 2:30 p.m.

Admission: $10.

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."