Since its earliest days, the St. Luke's congregation has enjoyed the rich blessing of music in its worship; in Sunday services, at baptisms, weddings and funerals, on high holy days, and in penitential seasons. As a cathedral, music has lifted up diocesan gatherings, clergy conferences, synods, ordinations and episcopal consecrations. So when the Cathedral's principal organ fell silent earlier this year and was found to be, after nearly fifty years of stalwart service, beyond repair, the parish leadership knew what had to be done. We would seek the best instrument to continue this important ministry well into the future.
It was vital to determine what best means in this context. After much prayer, research, and consultation, we came to understand that the best instrument would meet the following criteria:
· The organ would have the rich, broad, and deep tonal quality, range, and capacity to serve and uplift the breadth of the Cathedral's worship life. In this, the bar was set at least at the high standard of the instrument the new organ is to replace.
· The physical presence of the organ within the worship space must not in any way impede or interfere with the experience of worship. Better still, the instrument's placement and appearance might be expected to be an enhancement to the liturgical environment.
· The instrument must meet the test of good stewardship. By this we mean that the organ must be of a high standard of manufacture, and be cost-effective over its projected life.
· Further, the cost of the instrument must not become a burden or impediment to the ongoing mission and ministry of the church.
To address the final point, it was determined that the new organ should be paid for with monies generated from various fund raising activities and projects, and from gifts freely given, such as memorials and thank-offerings. The congregation will not enter into debt for the instrument, nor encumber the general operating budget of the church.
To meet the other criteria it was necessary to survey the full range of available instruments. This lead to consultations with preeminent organ builders in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The rigorous survey came to the determination that the best instrument was a robust and innovative custom design to be produced by the firm Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg, Germany.
The organ will have a console with three manuals, or keyboards, and a full pedal board, allowing the organist elegant control of 23 musical stops, with a total of 834 pipes. Each pipe is individually made of either fine solid wood or a special metal compound, and
range in size from as small as a finger to approximately eight feet in length. The design is particularly innovative in that it places these pipes in three groupings within the Cathedral's chancel; one group behind the existing and beloved pipe facade from the church's first memorial pipe organ, and the other two in uniquely designed clusters on the raised platforms on either side of the choir stalls. In doing so, the pipes are configured for optimal sound quality, using the fine acoustics of the church building to best advantage. This also allows the pipes to be installed without traditional casework, reducing material and manufacturing costs while presenting the pipes as a beautiful visual enhancement in the worship space. This exciting design results in an instrument that best meets our established criteria, at a cost of $258,000, with a projected service life of 100 years. The closest competitor could offer an instrument of similar musical capacity only at a cost of approximately an additional $100,000.
The Cathedral Vestry has strongly endorsed the Beckerath proposal and has approved a campaign to secure the necessary funding. A wide range of fund-raising activities and projects are underway, and generous financial gifts are being received. With an estimated time of six months from contracting to final installation, St. Luke's is hoping to enjoy the rich blessings of this new instrument sometime in the coming year.
For additional information please drop by the Cathedral office or call us at 705-254-7144.