Our Organ – OPUS 1144
Our Organ has a rich history in Lake Geneva, originally gifted to the church on June 12, 1883 by Mrs. George Mary Delafield Sturges. It has provided music at many Sunday services, weddings, recitals, funerals, and concerts over the past 135 years. In 2014, it was determined that our organ needed restoration and its 50-year-checkup – the last refurbishment being in 1969. Holy Communion is a small church but managed to raise over $20,000 in 2014; but the renovation was budgeted at over $67,000. Since then, Holy Communion has held several concerts, fundraisers, and even a 50/50 raffle to reach the goal and schedule the refurbishment. At this writing, our organ restoration fund is over $44,000.
When we reach the goal, we will be able to schedule the work – which can only be done in January and February (winter months). The organ builder will dismantle the organ and move it to their facility in Champaign, Illinois. The scheduled renovation is planned to take two months with reinstallation before Easter. At this writing, we do not know if that will be 2019 or 2020.
A little more history: The organ in the Church of the Holy Communion is a two manual and pedal, mechanical action organ with 11 ranks. It was installed in 1883, as the Opus 1144 of the Boston, Massachusetts firm of Hook & Hastings. The cost to completely replace it with an all-new instrument of similar size would be $500,000. But replacing this organ with a similar instrument could be three times that amount.
Hook & Hastings (founded in 1829 as E. & G.G. Hook, renamed as E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings in 1872, and known as Hook & Hastings from 1881 until the firm ceased operations in 1936) was the pre-eminent New England organ builder of its day. Their instruments were truly world-class throughout the firm’s existence, and the remaining Hook organs are to be treasured as supreme examples of the organ builder’s art.
The blower in the church undercroft failed in 2015 and was replaced immediately in order to allow for the organ to continue to be played. This older blower was originally installed in the undercroft because this style of blower was too loud to be placed immediately adjacent to the instrument. Modern high-speed silent blowers are much quieter, and installing them in the same location as the organ allows them to draw in cleaner air which is at the same temperature as that surrounding the pipes (this contributes to more reliable operation as well as tuning stability.) The humidification equipment was also serviced and modified so that its intake was rerouted to also draw air from the nave.
Recommended/Future work to be completed is as follows:
Replacement of the wood wind reservoir which serves as a pressurized chamber storing air to be distributed to the seven windchests that in turn feed the pipes. As it stands currently, the organ is not able to have all the pipes play at the same time (during low humidity months) when the wooden windchest is not in its fullest.form.
Removal, restoration and reinstallation of the great manual windchest. This windchest has a crack in it, likely caused by low humidity conditions within the organ. It is directly connected to the pipes themselves.
Cleaning of pipework and fitting of necessary slide tuners and regulating rings. Much of the organ’s moving parts are wood tie-rods resting on leather bushings. The leather has dried out and must be replaced. Some of the larger pipes will not hold a tuning because of these needs and the organ requires repeated tuning, especially before major events.
Fabrication and installation of internal tuning slides on flue pipes and removable cap rings on Oboe-Bassoon pipes, to allow tuning of the organ to A-440 standards.
Fabrication and installation of access ladders and passage boards to improve future tuning access.
Holy Communion’s organ is a classic that has been used for many organ recitals over its lifetime. Please help us keep this local treasure available for the musicians and concert goers of the future!
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