The Organs of St. Lawrence Parish

Church

At some time after the church opened in 1981, there was an analog instrument built by Rodgers of 3-manuals and pedals. A photograph (see above) in the Music Director’s office shows this instrument and in the background, you can clearly see the Stenken pipes in place over the main door.

In the early 1990s, a new digital instrument by Rodgers was purchased and married with the pre-existing Stenken pipework. Presumably for reasons of finance the 3-manual disposition was reduced to 2-manuals with a ‘roaming’ positive division.

When the present Director of Music, Philip Jakob, arrived he detected a problem with the organ’s amplification system which was not allowing some sounds to appear as they should. The greatest deficiencies were in the pedal division. This problem was confirmed by the visit in March 2015 of Bill Shaffer, Regional Manager for Rodgers Organs,  who found that three of the eight channels of the amplifier were dead. To compensate he moved the swell mixture to the great and boosted the bass response to compensate for the dead bass channel.

During the early months of 2017, the organ was becoming less reliable and on occasion, the main amplifier did not function at all or was shorting. The decision was made to replace the amplifier with an S800 update and to install surge protector boxes to both the console and the new amplifier placed behind the pipework. The total cost was approximately $4000. There were initial teething problems as the bass speakers which had not been driven perhaps for many years did not like being awoken! These speakers had to be replaced at a cost of approximately $300.

In March 2017, 2 days before the visit of the international concert organist Stephen Hicks, the organ was regulated by Cathy Blanchard and now sounds as good as it ever has.

Maestro Stephen Hicks after his recital,
flanked by Philip Jakob and Fr Mike Muhr.

A memorable organ recital was given on 8 March by Philip’s teacher, Stephen Hicks. Stephen lives in the historic town of Roros in Norway where he is Kantor (Director of Music) at the 16th century church there, He was on holiday in Florida with his family so Philip seized the opportunity to have him play for us. His program included the Fantasia & Fugue of Bach, Franck’s Priere, Dubois’ Toccata, Dupre’s Tantum ergo, Regina Coeli and Symphonie Passion and Guy Weitz’s Mater Dolorosa. As an encore, Stephen offered the Toccata from Widor’s 5th Symphony, Fr Mike’s favorite organ piece.






In April 2019 due to the generosity of some anonymous donors a cymbelstern was added to the organ. You can just about see this high up to the right of the pipes. At the same time the decsion was made to replace all the gold key contacts for the keyboards. For a while some of the contacts have deteriorated and required frequent maintenance visits from Central Organs. Now we have a much more reliable instrument for relatively small expense.


Chapel

There is a 2-manual Rodgers Insignia 537 digital organ with built-in amplification.




The Pianos of St. Lawrence Parish

There are several instruments on the site.

Director of Music’s Office, Higgins Hall

A Yamaha digital piano P-115 was purchased new in 2016 and links to associated recording software.
A Korg 200 digital piano purchased used in 2014 is available from storage.

Library, Higgins Hall

A Young Chang Bergmann upright piano (Model E-109 MRP; Serial No T00107365) was purchased as a choir rehearsal instrument and was previously housed in the mezzanine at the Church. However, its appearance is more impressive than its quality in terms of build, action, and sound. It was initially moved to the Library and can now be found in the Polly Murray Center.

St Cecilia Room, Church

A Baldwin console piano, which was reportedly rescued from a dumpster by Stephen Whitton, a previous Director of Music, is in regular use in the rehearsal room.
The piano stool was donated by choir member, Kathi Fischer.

Church

A world-class Bluthner Model 7 Grand Piano (Serial no 150385 built-in Leipzig in 1999) was purchased new from Central Music early in this century. The instrument has the additional patent feature of ‘Aliquot’strings’ in the upper register. This feature provides an extra string per note in the uppermost register which enables the sound of these notes to be enhanced.

The purchase for approximately $80,000 was achieved with part-funding from a generous parishioner being matched by the Parish. Recent estimates have suggested that the instrument’s current value could be in excess of $150, 000!

Due to the sloping floor in the area, the piano is leveled by solid wood blocks under the legs.

In 2019 due to generous donations from anonymous donors the mechanism of the instrument was overhauled and a dust cover installed. This instrument is 20 years old and merits regular maintenance.

Maintenance

The pianos are maintained by Taylor Starr.

Philip Jakob
August 2020

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