In our last newsletter, we mentioned that we had removed the only free standing Aeolian/Skinner Organ ever built. It was removed from the Cathedral of Christ the King in Kalamazoo, MI. We have completed the installation and touchup voicing. We totally rebuilt the console with a new organ control system. Several new stops were added. The organ was such a famous classical instrument; Dr. Darryl Miller wanted to be able to play the instrument as it was originally designed. The tonal additions added a wider range and color to the instrument but when you start with a full range of Mixtures and reeds in each division with two Trumpet En Chamades, it sure was not necessary to add any volume.
Another bit of color is the gold painted rotating star Zimblestern. Dr. Miller and the church wanted the organ introduced to the community in a special way and engaged Mr. Olivier Latry of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to give the inaugural concert to a capacity audience. A very exciting day for all.
Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga, TN
The 114 rank Austin in Chattanooga is now fully restored. We’ve been rebuilding one division at a time as the local music club raised the funds. The final stage was the electrical control system. We installed a Peterson ICS-4000. They routinely lift the four manual console from its normal home (just off stage right) to center stage for concerts. The unplugable, pencil size cable was a welcome site to the stage hands. When using the ICS-4000, we sometimes install several floor jacks for the Cat 5 cable and 110v current. Even though the cable is very small, having multiple jacks avoids tripping over it.
First Presbyterian Church in Pulaski, TN
The beautiful sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church is like a snapshot in time. Other than fresh paint every so often, it is completely unchanged since the days before cars and electricity. The historic Pilcher Organ (built in Louisville, KY) was rebuilt in 1938 by Pilcher. We can’t find the date of the original installation, but we know the first rebuild was much sooner than normal. The original action was tubular pneumatic. It was the second action used by several American Tracker builders. It was comprised of long lead tubes (one per key) connected to valves at the back of the keys at one end and the chest primary at the other. Its efficacy was dependent on the length of the lead tubes. At First Presbyterian, the action must have been too slow, hence the rebuild.
Today, it has a modern organ control system, three new Great stops and two new Reed ranks. I think the Pilcher Brothers would be proud that their organ is working so well in its second century.
First Christian Church in Rockwood, TN
Fred Pogue, the organist at First Christian Rockwood, requested we prepare a quote for a new organ control system. We proposed a Peterson ICS-4000 to replace the chamber relays and the pneumatic console switching and combination action. The funds fell short of what was needed, but we told him we could rebuild the console now and deal with the still working chamber switching at a later date.
While working on the console in our shop, Fred called with word of new funds that he wanted to use for two new Swell stops. He had mentioned earlier of his desire for these ranks so we had already installed draw knobs for them. We had a list of all the pipe scales and were able to order the pipes and build the wind chest. We installed the new stops along with his rebuilt console.
Grace Episcopal Church in Hopkinsville, KY.
In 1985, we signed a contract to rebuild the 1906 Estey Organ. The church had to repair its roof and was not able to honor the contract. We understood their position and cancelled the contract. In 2007, we signed a new contract to completely rebuild this historic organ with all new wind chests. Longtime Choirmaster/Organist, Steve Wiggins, worked very closely with us on a new stop list. We retained many of the original ranks and were able to keep the basic Estey sound. The new Swell box and shades greatly improved the volume control and sound projection. Steve was very pleased with the final outcome.
Dawson Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.
We were first called to Dawson Baptist Church by a colleague of ours, Mark Hayes, to assess damage to the Great and Pedal divisions due to a faulty A/C drain. The air conditioner is mounted above the ceiling of the main organ chamber. This church is very large with four multi-story buildings with connecting walkways mounted over streets (more common with large hospitals). They have dozens of air conditioners installed in every configuration possible.
In the south, we have a type of algae that grows in the drain pans of air conditioners and it will eventually clog, causing water to leak out of the pan. Certified A/C technicians are aware of this problem. They drop some “pan pills” in the pan at the start of cooling season to prevent algae growth.
We have had to repair three separate organs in the past five years due to leaking air conditioners. We strongly suggest churches set up a service plan with your local A/C technicians. After the repairs, we were contracted to rebuild the console using a Peterson ICS-4000 organ control system. The organist, Dianne Norton, just celebrated her 50th anniversary of playing for Dawson. That says a lot about Dianne and all the wonderful people she works with.
Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL
Our first trip to MBB was to assess the damage to the great division due to a leaky roof. During the inspection, we informed them that their expression shutters were not opening enough and we could replace the actions with a modern shade machine to get a larger opening and greater control. Also, we told them that the leather on the bellows needed replacing and it would save the church some money if we did all the repairs at the same time. After our work was completed, the church asked us what else should be done to their 1967, 51 rank, Möller. We met with Josh Coble, the organist and his instructor, Dan Lawhon. We prioritized their suggestions and plan on presenting our proposal, with options, to their organ committee soon.
Christ Episcopal Church in Elizabethtown, KY.
Christ Episcopal Church is the latest church to come under our care. They have a 1949 Möller Organ that was donated by St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church. In its old home, it was in a chamber with expression shutters mounted on the wall, facing the congregation.
The organ was installed in Christ Episcopal by Rev. John Eberman and three parishioners. They mounted the organ in the back of the small sanctuary and the console was positioned to the left side of the chancel. Without shades, the organ lacked volume control. We improved the situation by re-voicing the organ including, softening the trumpet by adding caps at the top of the pipes and installing thinner tongues. Refinishing the console, as you can tell in the before photo, was the biggest challenge. A new combination action and relay replaced the previous air driven system.
A Warm Welcome To Our New Clients!
· Schermerhorn Symphony Hall Nashville, TN
Organist: Andrew Risinger
· Covenant Presbyterian Church Nashville, TN
Director of Music: Paul Magyar
· First Presbyterian Church Jackson, MS
Minister of Music: Dr. Bill Wymond
· Galloway Memorial United Methodist Jackson, MS
Minister of Music: Michael Hrivnak
Organist: Robert Knupp
· Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church
Organist: Gary Smoke
· Samford University Birmingham, AL
Organist: Dr. H. Edward Tibbs
· St. Bernard Abbey Cullman, AL
Organist: Dr. Betty L. Lumby
· Christ Episcopal Church Elizabethtown, KY
Organist: Beckie Henry
· Episcopal Church of the Ascension Montgomery, AL
Director of Music: Becky Taylor
· First United Methodist Church Mount Pleasant, TN
Organist: Lawrence Douglas
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