Music

The New Organ

July 2014: Details and Specs Published by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders

The new 100-stop instrument, to be named “The Irene D. and William R. Miller Chancel Organ in Honor of Dr. John Scott,” has been designed to support choir, congregation and repertoire in fair balance. Across the chancel from Goodhue’s famous 1913 case will be introduced a second case of complementary design, enriched with significant carvings from Dennis Collier Sr. and Jr. and housing the Great and Positive divisions. The remaining departments will be sited within the present case and chambers. The elaborately carved 1913 console cabinet will remain in its present location, its exterior conserved, and its interior fitted with new components. Select registers from the existing organ will be retained, re-fashioned to suit the new scheme.

Read more and see the specifications on Dobson's site.

February 2014: Presentation to the Parish on the New Organ

On February 2 and February 12, 2014, John Scott, Karl Saunders, Kenneth Koen and project consultant Jonathan Ambrosino presented the parish with an overview of many exciting developments in the Chancel Organ Project. The gentlemen informed that parish that the Vestry has felt confident to move the project forward in three critical directions:

The first is signing a design contract with Dobson, to cover all the case design drawings and engineering of the organ. The images you’ve seen thus far in brochures and in the narthex were concept drawings, which enabled us to see how the organ would fit into the chancel, what it would look like in basic terms, and how many pipes would comfortably fit inside. But the actual construction drawings require hundreds of additional hours. Getting this work done now, which started last summer and is still ongoing, means that when we finally sign the contract for the organ itself, all of the engineering and design work will be finished, and construction can commence immediately. This will save many months of work at a critical juncture.

A second contract with Dobson is a schedule retainer, which guarantees Saint Thomas a spot in the Dobson production schedule. With a revival in the economy, business has picked up for Dobson, and they are now committed to three other projects before ours. We were concerned that when it came time to sign the actual construction contract, they might have signed more work, and we would have to wait even longer to get our organ. Given our confidence with recent fundraising success, and our optimism that there will be yet greater success on the fundraising front, the Vestry felt it was prudent to engage in the schedule retainer.

The third contract signed is with master woodcarvers Dennis Collier Sr and Jr. From the beginning, Lynn Dobson told us that a new organ case, placed alongside the artistic mastery of everything at Saint Thomas, would require carving of the finest available talent. We have been researching carvers for several years now, and when we met the Colliers and saw their work, we knew we’d found the right team. Since Lynn’s design work needed to unfold hand-in-hand with the people who would be doing the actual carving, having the Colliers on board early became a critical piece of completing the organ’s design and figuring a carving budget. Their initial contract covers design, tooling and the fabrication of several initial pieces that have also acted as studies.

Mr. Ambrosino then shared some images regarding the design process. The slides (accessible via the button below) show refinement in the case design and how elements derive from the building itself.

Photo Gallery: Proposed Design of the South Organ Case

When the Colliers first came to Saint Thomas, they spent hours in silence, simply looking and touching the chancel woodwork, overcome with admiration for both the design and the craftsmanship. Lynn Dobson has spent now weeks studying, photographing and absorbing the art of Cram and Goodhue and their designers. These men understand that to build this new organ case is a once-in-a-lifetime artistic opportunity, in an atmosphere unmatched in the United States. Their awe and reverence is inspiring.

Additional Funds Needed

You may have heard about the possibility that some of our air rights will be sold for a development down 53rd Street. We are optimistic this development will move forward. However, by law, any funds from the sale of the air rights must be added to the endowment to maintain the building. Thus, the air rights proceeds cannot be used to fund the organ. So it remains critical that we get your help and that of others to make this project a reality.

To this end, we encourage everyone who is willing and able to donate to the Capital Campain. We are so grateful to everyone who participated in the Buy-a-Pipe Campaign during March-June 2014, which raised over $700,000. Even thought the Buy-a-Pipe Campagin has now ended, additional funds are needed to ensure the completion of the organ project. Please read more about the Capital Campaign and then consider donating online.

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