The origins of the pipe organ can be traced to 3rd century BC ancient Greece and it has continued to grow in size and complexity throughout history. In 812 AD, Charlemagne commissioned a large pipe organ for the Chapel at Aachen which began the enduring association of pipe organs with western church music. While pipe organs have been used in theaters, concert halls, and even private homes, there is no other instrument more associated with churches and thus more ultimately sacred than the pipe organ. At Trinity Church, we are greatly blessed with what is one of the finest pipe organs in the area. In addition to supporting the rest of our music ministry, it is used for lessons, recitals, concerts, and educational forums all of which provide sacred inspiration to those in our community and beyond as well as furthering the development of church music and church musicians. Trinity’s pipe organ is not just a musical instrument but an instrument of ministry. Much like the rest of our invaluable campus, our pipe organ is also a unique religious resource whose stewardship requires special care to maintain it to its original standard.
Trinity’s pipe organ was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston and originally installed in the church in 1960. By the early nineties, it was in desperate need of major repair. In 1996, the Lawless-Johnson Organ Company of Hagerstown, MD, performed an extensive rebuild of the organ including some greatly needed additions bringing the total size of the organ to approximately 3000 pipes in 55 ranks at a total cost of $250,000. Within five years, there were more problems so in 2002, a professional organ consultant, Haig Mardirosian, was brought in to perform an unbiased evaluation and deliver a consultative report which outlined three phases of work to be done. Phase I involved bringing the organ up to workmanlike order by correcting many mechanical deficiencies from the 96 rebuild. This work was performed by David Storey of Baltimore, Md. in 2005 at a cost of approximately $50,000. Phase II involves a thorough tonal finishing of the organ which was not done in 1996. This work was estimated at $50,000 in the 2002 report. The music committee has been asking for funds to accomplish this phase ever since and has gradually raised our estimate of the cost to $100,000 to reflect both inflation and continued deterioration. Phase III involves additional expansion and reconfiguration which may be included in the next major rebuild of the organ. It should be noted that the life cycle of rebuilding large pipe organs is 30-40 years so we should be planning for this in the next 10-20 years at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars.
In the last year, an organ fund was created to begin to collect money for both short term Phase II tonal finishing and long term Phase III rebuild and this fund has now been seeded with the gift of $50,000 from the Lambert Foundation. Considering this, we have brought in renowned organ builder Larry Trupiano of NY and Curator of the National Cathedral organ, Bard Wickkiser of Baltimore to examine the organ and develop a joint proposal for accomplishing the Phase II tonal finishing work. We have been in constant dialogue with them about tailoring their work to our needs and at their April meeting, the Vestry voted to approve the thoughtful and thorough Trupiano/Wickkiser proposal at a cost of $100,000 with work to potentially begin this summer. However, final ratification of a contract is pending raising the additional $50,000. Hurst Groves has agreed to lead this fundraising effort. For more information about this project or to consider donating, please contact me at the church or Hurst at firstname.lastname@example.org. Completion of this project has been a long time coming and will finally bring the organ up to its full potential as we continue to build the body of
Christ using music as an instrument of God’s peace.