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When one looks around the Cathedral, the new organ cases in both rear gallery and east transept make a dramatic visual impact. This splendid aspect of the instrument immediately alerts one to the fact that here are really two instruments, each using the Cathedral itself as its sounding board. Then one might logically ask, “Why TWO organs?” The answer lies in the physical space of this large edifice, the desires to support and encourage congregational singing, and to accompany diverse Cathedral and diocesan choirs participating in many varied liturgies. Hence 80 ranks of pipes ranging in length from less than a thumbnail to over 16 feet. Hence a dynamic range from ppp to fff with extra thick, beveled and  felted swell shades to make crescendi and diminuendi more effective.  (Hence specially-selected digital voices to augment the pitch level in the pedals and to widen the color spectrum in the manuals.) Designed to speak with one voice, the two organs are still quite distinct entities with definite musical personalities. 

        This instrument is quite literally the product of years of prayers, hopes and dreams. A brief chronology may be helpful. Discussion about replacing the two existing electronic organs had gone on for several years.  Actual planning for the  physical layout and tonal design began in 1999 with the appointment of the present writer as consultant to the Cathedral.  After reviewing preliminary design documents, Monsignor Hayde and the Cathedral organists made recommendations to the Bishop and to the Rector of the Cathedral in the summer of 1999.  Once contracts were signed, the organ was built pipe by pipe over a period of eighteen months. Modifications to the Cathedral itself took place over several months in 2000, in preparation for the arrival of the instrument. This included major electrical and mechanical considerations, the construction of a new organ loft in the transept, gallery chamber preparations and  platforms for the Gallery Great and Pedal divisions. When the instrument was erected in the factory in January 2001,  preliminary pipe regulation began; once the builders had erected the organ in the Cathedral, the tonal finishing process continued for some weeks. In this intensive work, the assistance of Dr. William Hamner of the Wicks staff and Robert Walker of Walker Technical Co. has been invaluable.

        Tonally, the TRANSEPT ORGAN is designed with  both congregational and choral accompaniment very much in mind. Thus the stoplist is inclusive of some lovely singing tones, for example some of the delicate flute tones call to mind  the lightly-voiced stops of Bach’s time.  Principals and flutes really “sing,” with clarity and elegance in both individual voices and in ensembles.  The Great chorus is on 3 inches wind pressure; the flues of the enclosed Choir division speak on 3 ½ inch wind. A dramatic reed enclosed in the Choir division, the Solo Trumpet,  is on 5 inch wind. Of special note in terms of pipe construction is the 8’ Dolcan in the Choir division; these pipes, having an inverted 5/4 taper, are quite distinctive and provide some of the softest sounds in the entire instrument. 

        TRANSEPT ORGAN:  You will see a beautiful new case with dozens of pipes in full view; many hundreds more are behind them. (There are over 4400 pipes in the two organs.) The transept organ has the bass pipes of  two full-length 16-foot flue stops en façade, as well as some basses of the Great 8’ Principal and 4’ Octave. All of the pipes in the façade save one “dummy” are speaking pipes. High in the center of the casework is the golden-hued cymbelstern (or bell star). Having ancient origins, this device is  frequently encountered in Baroque organs in Germany and has been revived in modern instruments. It provides a cheerful note in certain exuberant works of Bach, as well as in the accompaniment of joyful hymns of praise.

         The proximity of the TRANSEPT ORGAN to the  congregation is of particular help in supporting the singing of the assembly.  This accompanimental role is vital in Cathedral liturgies ranging from daily Mass (seen by television viewers in six states), to “state” occasions, including the installation of a new Bishop. Flexibility in accompanying the multiple choirs is the principal reason for having twin consoles in both Gallery and Transept. The two consoles each have their own completely independent multi-level combination actions.

         The GALLERY ORGAN is the larger of the two instruments: this is  an eclectic design which features more robust choruses, larger scales, more solo registers, and higher wind pressures than the Transept organ..  Our goal has been not to recreate an existing instrument or copy a style, but to create an ensemble of real tonal beauty.  This ensemble consists largely of mild-toned stops which have a cumulative effect of sonic grandeur  matching the spaciousness of the Cathedral architecture. . The tonal design moreover includes for musico-dramatic purposes very soft voices at one end of the dynamic spectrum and quite potent voices at the other. These special stops range from the delicate Flauto Dolce and Kleine Erzahler to the stentorian Trompette Harmonique and Tuba. As one faces the rear gallery, the organ is divided on two sides of the stained glass window. The Swell division is in the left chamber, and the Choir division in the right chamber. Great and Pedal pipes are divided in front of these two enclosed divisions.  Speaking pipes in the two Gallery cases include basses of the metal Diapasons and the Great Flute Harmonique. 

         All of the mixture-work in the organ has been specially designed to provide clarity to the ensemble without undue domination of the higher pitches. The contrapuntal clarity of the classic organ ensemble has been blended with the drama  of reeds and solo color stops of the romantic and modern periods. Thus the organ has the characteristic features of a true Cathedral organ and is suitable for the playing of organ literature from many countries and periods of musical composition. The most prominent voice in the entire organ is the horizontal trumpet, which bears the lovely title, Hope en Chamade. The resonators are of flamed copper and the pipes speak on ten-inch wind pressure.

         This instrument is built to sing to the glory of God long after our own voices are stilled.

                                                                           Charles Callahan

 
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