A series of blog posts about choosing, installing, voicing, debuting a new pipe organ
It's here! The huge pipe organ built by Casavant Frères of Quebec for First Presbyterian Church-Charleston (FPC) has arrived by semi in thousands of pieces!
this was not actually Day 1. The impetus for this project came from church
members John and Ruth McGee. It’s seems they have quite an affinity for pipe
organs. The McGee Foundation donated the funds for the organ itself.
Pews are covered in pipes and pieces - and plastic sheeting.
began nearly two years ago when Rev. Bill McCoy invited a handful of people to
undertake the selection of a new antiphonal pipe organ to be placed in the
front gallery. I was elected chair of the committee and the work began.
researched. We sought out the counsel of trusted friends. We invited three
builders to ”pitch” their company. We sent our organist and music director to listen to
instruments previously built by the front-runners. We discussed and settled
upon Casavant Frères.
Then of course,
we had to get estimates on the total project cost – the expenses of preparing
the space to accept the organ (really the weight of it) and all the associated
costs of readying our front gallery for use by the various church choirs.
Workshop at Casavant
enlisted some friends to accomplish this funding hurdle. Apparently Chuck
Avampato of the Clay Foundation also has a “history” with organs. The final
piece of the financial puzzle came later when church members Bob and Nancy
Douglas agreed to fund the other needs such as risers for choirs, tables for
bells, audio and visual equipment, etc.
contract was signed, the work began in earnest in Quebec in early 2009. About a month ago,
our music director and an organist friend traveled to Quebec to inspect the instrument in the
Casavant workshop. They were thrilled!So, here we
are. A crew from Casavant will begin assembling this “King of Instruments” in
the front gallery with cranes, scaffolding and manpower.
The Fisk, installed in 1980
Now – this
is not to diminish the fame and reputation of the fabulous Fisk tracker organ
which occupies our rear gallery.
Lest you doubt, the 2006 search committee for
our current music director received resumes from all over the world – nearly
half from organists who wanted to lay their hands on our Fisk. It will remain
in service, and services at FPC.
organs generally last 100-150 years (longer if you really take care of them!),
the acquisition of a new one is a monumental task in many respects.
NOTE: And why "Delivering the baby"? That's my personal take on it. The Fisk is about 30 years old, so this instrument is definitely the "baby." I've nicknamed it Cassie - for Casavant. It's designed to be more flexible and sensitive, so I figure it's a girl. Call it profiling.
Next: Some assembly required