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Local church to receive new pipe organ

Jennifer Sprouse • Jul 25, 2012 at 10:07 PM

One local church will be singing to a new tune, as a large, handmade pipe organ is scheduled to arrive in the area on Sunday.

First Presbyterian Church’s organ committee began the hunt for the colossal instrument when water leaks, as well as several parts on the instrument stopped functioning. Visiting many organ companies, the group was in search for an organ that would not only accommodate the size and sound needed to fill their sanctuary area, but also one in their price range.

“We knew we had to do something, so we formed a committee and the committee began looking at what we would do,” Larry Dodd, director of worship and music ministries said. “We contacted over a dozen companies from around the country and in Canada and asked them to come look at the situation and give us what their plan was, what they think we should do. Almost everybody was unanimous that we should go with a new instrument.”

Dodd, and First Presbyterian’s organist, Laura Cates, said the high cost estimated for the repairs that needed to be done to the organ swayed their decision to find another one.

After an extensive search in places such as Chicago, Wisconsin, California, Georgia and Tennessee, the Berghaus Pipe Organ Company, in Bellwood, IL. was finally commissioned for the job.

Happy with their decision, Cates said the organ coming in later this week cannot be easily duplicated and has a specific amount of craftsmanship.

“What we’ve had to educate our congregation (on) is this instrument is totally handmade. From the tiniest pipe to the tallest pipe, which is going to be 16-feet tall,” she said. “It’s really hard to put a price on craftsmanship and quality like we’re getting from Berghaus, but they were able to work with us to help us get the most instrument for the amount of money.”

The organ, complete with 2669 pipes, 48 ranks, a console with three manuals and pedal board, will take some time to install, but the church is willing to make the space for the instrument.

“It’ll take probably eight to twelve weeks to install and there will be then a period of time for voicing, because they will tune and voice every single pipe to this space, so that it’ll sound correctly as she pulls the stops,” Dodd said.

Playing the organ has always been a passion of Cates, and she said she is very excited for its arrival.

“For a lot of organists, this is really a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a great privilege to work with this congregation and a church that’s very supportive of this endeavour,” she said. “It is quite a responsibility because we have worked so hard to make sure that this instrument will stand the test of time, as far as getting as much instrument as we can at this time, for the money and the quality, because we want this organ...to be in use for the next 100, 200 years or longer with minimal maintenance and repair.”

Dodd said the new organ will also be a way to build community within the community.

“We have several groups in the community that are very excited about the organ coming and (have) already scheduled concerts here and are make plans with it in mind,” he said.

After the noon service on Sunday, Dodd said the parish community will have a dinner on the grounds and will await the truck bringing their new musical instrument to the church.

“The last conversation I had with Berghaus, they anticipated that it would take about six hours to unload it. We’ll see how much help we have. It may go a little faster,” he said. “We really are hopeful that the entire church family, from the littlest one to the most senior of them, that there will be something for everybody to carry. It’s really going to be a big event in the history of this church.”

Cates said she hopes the arrival and installation of the new instrument will be memorable for all for many years.

“We’re creating memories,” she said. We’re just very hopeful and prayerful that this instrument is going to help us glorify God in the best way we can in our worship services on Sunday morning. We do have very high hopes for this instrument. It will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people.”

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