Organ Update, May 2024

The photos accompanying this update show views of the central swell chamber and exterior pipework (lectern side) that few people other than organ builders and tuners will see. Photo credit Stephen Russell.

Recent visits to St. Paul’s by the crew from organ builders Russell & Co. brought exciting progress in what is now the final stage of installing old and new pipes to their permanent positions at St. Paul’s.

Apart from the Vox Humana, which must be installed last of all, all ranks in the Swell Division are now in place in the organ chamber behind the altar. New stops will bring previously unheard voices to the instrument, for example the Swell Cornopean stop that has a dark, broad trumpet sound. A set of 16′ Gamba bass pipes dating from the original 1929 organ have been reinstalled following extensive restorative attention, and will be heard as they should truly sound for the first time in many years. Shortly to arrive are the bottom 24 pipes of the Pedal Bombarde, and two of the antique reed stops, the charmingly named Serpent and Cromorne. Just 11 ranks of pipes – out of a total of 128 – remain to be installed. Further work on the organ’s physical installation – racks and supports, wind systems and electronics, lighting and painting – is continuing and close to complete.

While the organ has remained largely playable during the course of work, not all the stops that have been installed will be heard until the new console is in place. There are simply not enough drawknobs on the existing console to play the larger number of stops – around half as many again – that the new instrument will encompass.

Construction of the new console is progressing well in the organ builder’s shop in Vermont. It is an elaborate work of precision woodworking, engineering, aesthetic and practical design that requires the most meticulous attention. The new console will reside in the same space as the existing one but has been designed so that it can be moved into the center of the chancel, which makes it highly desirable as a concert instrument. Since the chancel floor is at a lower level than the console location, the new console is fitted with internal casters to allow it to roll smoothly, and its chassis is constructed to move safely over a ramp system that will bring it down to the level of the chancel.

The expected delivery date for the new console is early summer of this year, and the summer itself promises to be a busy time of making final connections and adjustments. The recently installed air-conditioning in the church is sure to be appreciated by all involved in this work as they prepare for the organ’s post-renovation debut and rededication in the fall.

Organ Rededication Series

An exciting series of events has been planned for the 2024-25 season that will showcase the instrument in the various roles that it plays in the life of the church.  Be sure to save the dates!  If you do not already receive the Music at St. Paul’s Newsletter, subscribe here to add your email address and receive further details about the rededication events as they are posted.

Friday September 27, 2024 | 7:30pm
Organ Recital

Sunday November 17, 2024 | 4:00pm
Hymn Festival

Sunday February 23, 2025 | 4:00pm
Choir & Organ Concert

Friday May 2, 2025 | 7:30pm
Organ Recital

Previous organ renovation updates

Updated [11/17/23] organ specifications 2024