The Miller-Scott Organ

Bill and Irene Miller

Below you'll find information regarding continuing work on the Miller-Scott Organ, the decomissioning of the Arents Memorial Organ, and a brief description of our temporary Hauptwerk console. You'll also find a latest news feed which will keep you up to date on the latest content posted to this page.

Latest News

The Miller-Scott Organ

April 2017: preparing for the Miller-Scott organ

A few short weeks following Easter heralds the arrival of the Miller-Scott organ. It is a thrilling moment in the life of Saint Thomas Church, culminating an idea begun by John Scott and the Organ Committee a dozen years ago, in 2005. The Miller-Scott organ crowns a period of renewal to our church home at its century mark: the restoration of our stained glass, the cleaning of our stone exterior, and many other refurbishments taking place around the building.

Scaffolding has been erected on either side of the Choir in front of each organ chamber. You can click or tap here above to see images of the new scaffolding and the temporary shed in our chantry chapel. The organ is so immense that it cannot come all at once. Trailer loads of organ pipes and parts will arrive bi-weekly, beginning May 3 and extending into August. Some of the largest parts will be taken directly down the main aisle and hoisted inside the organ chambers, all according to a carefully choreographed procedure Dobson has worked out to make installation as efficient as possible. But not everything can be installed so quickly. It is therefore necessary to have a staging area in which pipes and parts can be stored until they are ready to be installed.

To provide this, the rear portion of the Chantry Chapel and the side narthex will be walled off as a temporary shed for storage use. Enough of the Chapel seating will remain to allow the pattern of daily Mass to continue undisturbed. Additionally, the upper south gallery will be used by the organ builders, mainly to store pipes destined for the south chamber, given that space’s ready access to Andrew Hall and the south chamber entrance.

The decommisioning of the Arents Memorial Organ

During the weeks of June 12 and June 19 the Arents Memorial, the great organ of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue for 60 years, was deconstructed and removed from the church in preparation for the installation of the Miller-Scott Organ. The video below chronicles the process and you can also click or tap here to view a photo gallery of some of the more striking images from the decomissioning.

Hauptwerk Console

The Hauptwerk console, built by Ortloff Organ Co of Brookline, Mass., was installed in August 2016. Its initial purpose is to provide temporary organ leadership in the chancel of Saint Thomas Church in the 22-month period between the removal of the Arents Organ and the arrival of the Miller-Scott. At that time, the Hauptwerk console moves to Saint Thomas Choir School to serve as a practice instrument.

Hauptwerk technology reflects a new idea in digital organ thinking. Most digital organs have attempted to simulate a pipe organ through sounds sampled from various instruments. The Hauptwerk model does not try to create its own tonal palette, but instead to recreate specific historic instruments through intensive, specific sampling. Thus, Hauptwerk technology has found widespread application in homes and studios, allowing regular exposure to the timbres and balances of historic organs for practice and study. Dozens of historic organs are available; the 1874/1934 Willis at Salisbury Cathedral is the sample set presently loaded onto the Saint Thomas Hauptwerk.

During this interim period, the principal instrument for hymns and voluntaries remains the Loening-Hancock (Taylor & Boody 1996, expanded in 2016 with a third manual and additional registers).