For me this is a difficult column to write. Over the last six years I have tried to be transparent and in that spirit I want to share with you some unpleasant news. Our pipe organ is in serious trouble and we have to replace it. This news was a total surprise to me. Around last Christmas our organist, Andrea, alerted me that the organ was not working properly. It has had problems in the past, and I thought that we would be able to fix it. When our music ministry called in Mr Jeff Weiler of the Weiler Organ Company, to look at our organ, he discovered that the problems were rather serious. We commissioned him to carry out a thorough examination of the organ and to produce a report of his professional opinion.
I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is, the organ still works. The bad news is that much of the organ doesn’t work, and the portions that do work could soon fail and result in an organ that’s completely unusable. Last fall, Andrea and I began seeking a new maintenance company to service St. Paul’s pipe organ. The company we had been using for 15+ years was becoming increasingly unreliable and it was time to sever ties with them and find one that could better suit or needs. Through research and several recommendations we began working with J.L. Weiler, Inc., a company that not only maintains but also restores pipe organs.
The scientist Ctesibius of Alexandria, an engineer in the 3rd century BC is credited with inventing the Hydraulis, and early type of pipe organ. The hydraulis was powered by converting the power of water into wind pressure which sounded the pipes. The organ was later adopted by the Romans and Byzantines. Byzantine and Arab inventors developed automatic hydraulic organs which according to historical accounts could be heard from as far as sixty miles away.
In my first position as director at St. Aloysius in Bowling Green, OH, I spear-headed a five-year organ search project, which resulted in the installation and dedication of a beautiful Letourneau trackeraction pipe organ. As a result of that experience, I then consulted with other parishes undergoing the same process in the Diocese of Toledo, OH. I am thankful that I can use my past experience to benefit St. Paul of the Cross.
This organ lesson continues illustrating the issues of our ailing organ.
We have a very promising opportunity, which has been presented as a solution to our organ situation. Since it is still evolving, several upcoming articles will detail general options and respective advantages and disadvantages of each.
In November 2016 St. Paul of the Cross began the demolition and removal of their old pipe organ and began preparations for installing a refurbished Casavant Opus 1279 that will be delivered in February 2017. This time lapse video captures the removal of the pipes, wind chests, and casement. Watch for updates on the installation coming up in February 2017!