Printed in the Quarterly Explorer Winter 2014
by Bob Gallagher
October was a bittersweet month in the organ-playing part of my world here at River Road Church.
On Sunday, October 12, our Möller pipe organ played its last Sunday worship service in its present form. Later that day, Doug and Chester Phelps removed the modesty rail on the pulpit side of the chancel so that we would be able to gain access to the console throughout that week. On Tuesday, Richard Houghten and his associates began to dismantle our original 1970 Möller console. On Wednesday, carpenters arrived to build up “the pit” that had housed the console well below the chancel floor level for almost 45 years. Early Friday morning, the provisional four-manual Rodgers electronic organ arrived. The modesty rail was reinstalled on Saturday afternoon.
The Rodgers console sits comfortably at chancel level, and the back sections of our organ chambers are the temporary home for a myriad of speakers and sub-woofers that reproduce the sounds of many different organ pipes that have been digitally sampled. Although the Rodgers was delivered on Friday, October 17, it was not “voiced” (tonally fine-tuned) until early the next week.
On October 19, playing a service on a new unvoiced organ that was just moved from a 900-square-foot showroom to an expansive church sanctuary was a bit of a tight-rope walk. Once the organ was voiced, though, it felt much more normal to play. Like all large organs, it needs to be lived with before its true potential is reached.
Now we are eagerly awaiting the installation of the new console being built by Richard Houghten. Once the new console has been installed early in 2015, our superb Möller pipe organ will sound more impressive than ever, and musical possibilities will increase greatly due to the technological advances that the new console will embody.
In the meantime, we await the completion of a lift that will allow the organ console to sit several inches below chancel floor level for church services, while permitting us to raise the console to floor level so that it can be moved to the center of the chancel for recitals.
I rejoice and give thanks to all of you at River Road for your generous support of the organ project.