The New Organ
From The Reverend Andrew C. Mead, Rector
May 11, 2012
I hope you will read the information on this website regarding the state of our Great organ, which is in a perilous state with dead notes on several registers, stops that are completely silent and unsteady winding. Simply put, the Great Organ, so central to the mission of Saint Thomas Church, the Choir School and our entire music program, has become unreliable and could fail at any time.
Raising the funds to purchase and install a new organ has been a top priority at Saint Thomas for the last several years. In addition to raising capital funds for a necessary stained glass window restoration, we have secured almost $4 million in support of the Organ Replacement Project. We need an additional $4 million and are appealing to music lovers both within and outside of our parish. If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to view our organ video above and to contact me.
We have thoroughly explored the option of trying to restore the Great Organ but two independent organ consultants have recommended strongly against this as the organ has already been through several major rehabilitations and parts of the organ are almost a century old. This organ gets constant use from rehearsals, concerts, recitals and at least six weekly liturgical services and it is neither artistically nor financially prudent to attempt to rebuild it once again.
We have in hand from Dobson Organ Builders an exciting design to build and install a new organ. These costs are estimated at $5 million. There will be additional costs of approximately $3 million to remove the present organ, refurbish the existing 1913 organ case on the north side, and renovate other spaces. We are almost halfway to our goal but need the support of organ lovers and those who appreciate great sacred music in order to place the order to start this project. If you can, we ask for your help. And to the many who have supported this project, please know that we are deeply grateful.
I hope you enjoy the over 200 choral worship services, concerts and organ recitals at Saint Thomas each year.
With all good wishes,
The Reverend Andrew C. Mead
From John Scott, Organist & Director of Music
May 11, 2012
I have written previously about the precarious state of our Great Organ. The deterioration continues and we are now faced with the prospect of having to spend money over the summer to maintain it further until we can raise sufficient funds to start building the new Dobson organ.
Musical instruments are a means of grace. They are media of inspiration, and as such are valuable and important in all times and all places. Certainly they are this in the sacred time and space of worship, when God’s people make melody with their hearts and voices to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
The human voice is the incarnate expression of the soul’s desire to make music. The bowed string, the blown horn or flute, the tickled ivory, are all but extensions of the human desire to bring the music we hear in our mind’s ear to life. A pipe organ is the greatest of all instruments in its capacity to move an entire congregation to sing and fill them with a sense of awe and wonder. Only a symphony orchestra can compete with the organ in terms of power, range and majesty of sound, but the organ is the instrument, above all others, which has its rightful place in church, representing so well the many centuries of ecclesiastical music created by the greatest composers of the Western musical tradition. While a truly great choir is as fine a reflection of heavenly music as there is – what better to accompany them, and a congregation of hundreds? Only the finest pipe organ will do.
Saint Thomas is a church committed to the highest aesthetic ideals in worship, through its liturgy, preaching and music. Our beautiful space demands this from all of us. This is part of who we are – a church community wherein the sacred music of many centuries is cherished, nurtured and offered up. It inspires us, informs our sense of holiness and feeds us spiritual nourishment.
We are called, I believe, to make this offering in music not only for ourselves, but also for those who come here seeking to meet God within our own tradition. At the core of our music program, our new Dobson organ will be an instrument of the highest standards of craftsmanship with a refined, yet rousing and authoritative voice. It will provide all those colors and nuances for choral accompaniment that we lack so greatly in the current instrument as well as being a thrilling recital instrument.
Cram and Goodhue’s magnificent building has inspired generations of visitors and worshippers. The new organ will have the potential to provide our generation and its successors with an opportunity to create something lasting, of which we can be proud. To paraphrase the inscription on the famous Willis organ in Blenheim Palace, home to the Churchill family in England: “We leave thy voice to speak within these walls in the years to come when ours are still.” Please help us to realize this vision.
With best wishes,
Organist and Director of Music