Cover feature

 

Glück Pipe Organs,

New York, New York

Faith Lutheran Church,

New Providence, New Jersey

The new pipe organ for Faith Lutheran Church was created for use in traditional worship and for the performance of solo organ literature with a reasonable degree of historical accuracy. Although conservative in its core concept and tonal structure, some unusual pipe forms and design elements take it beyond the realm of the tonal cookie-cutter.

The instrument replaces a very heavily unified organ from the 1960s that subsequently had been altered by a local tuner. Inspection revealed that it contained several ranks of flue pipes that could be rescaled and incorporated into the new organ. While the mouths of these salvageable ranks were “cut to speech,” the pipes had never been truly voiced or tonally finished. They were essentially raw pipes of good alloy, straight from the pipemaker. Retaining these heritage pipes accomplished three goals: it enabled us to broaden the scope of the instrument from two manuals to three, it made the congregation understand that pipe organs could be investments, not merely expenses, and it gave church members a deeply satisfying feeling of historical continuity.

 

The façade design

When this project began years ago, the bidding organbuilders were asked to design an organ for the front of the church as part of a comprehensive renovation. Despite my strong indication that I preferred a rear gallery location, I conceived two chancel designs, one unilateral, the other divided. As the years passed, larger considerations arose for this thriving church. Should they once again enlarge their present church and school complex, or build a new church on new land? The church retained respected organ, architectural, and acoustical consultant Scott Riedel of Milwaukee, whose calm advice and clear education resulted in the organ in place today, as well as enlarged facilities for the music department and an improved acoustic. 

In the end, I got my wish. The organ sings from an elevated, central position in the new rear gallery. The A-frame structure, characteristic of so many American Lutheran churches of the era, naturally calls for North European case morphology. The mahogany case, proportioned for a relaxed “fit” in the room, is accented with understated pipe shades and foliate carvings in maple.

Within this visual context, I engaged in a bit of iconography and mannerism. The central “Trinity” of pipes is non-speaking, allowing me the opportunity to increase their length and have them break through the cornice and soar heavenward. The remainder of the façade is composed of pipes from the Great 8 Præstant. The twelve polished zinc pipes of the lowest octave, with their undulating mouth lines, represent the Apostles. They are, in turn, flanked by the spotted metal 4 range, playing upon the number seven, which recurs often in scripture. In each “flat” of pipes, the outer two pipes are reversed to acknowledge the visual strength of the roofline, and pipe lengths are balanced by building every other pipe one semitone over-length. 

 

The console

When minister of music Dr. John Girvin asked that I address the needs of an easily navigable, mobile console with unobstructed sight lines, I took as a point of departure the Aeolian organ consoles designed for the homes of the aristocracy during the first quarter of the last century. In this restrained and modern version, the tablets operate vertically, rather than horizontally, so that there is no confusion as to whether a stop is on or off. Each divisional field is in the same location as it would be in a drawknob console. The console is equipped with a comprehensive combination action and record and playback system.

The organist can see and conduct over the console effortlessly, and musicians can even stand around it and read their music from atop its cabinetry. It glides anywhere in the new organ and choir loft on an undetectable, integrated dolly, since choral and instrumental ensembles of various configurations are a normal part of musical life at Faith Lutheran. I designed the new gallery rail to be somewhat visually opaque but tonally transparent, with rhythmic elements paying homage to the likes of Wright, Mackintosh, and Stickley.

 

Tonal structure

While assiduously avoiding the lure of the unthinking American Lutheran stoplist, the structure of the Great principal chorus nonetheless had to be the starting point. It is supplemented by an 8 Harmonic Flute, a requirement of the French Romantic repertoire. Carried down in open metal to A10, the bottom nine notes are borrowed from the open 8 Spitzflöte so as to have no break in the tone. Taking advantage of unit actions in the Swell, the unison flute and string are duplexed to the Great, making available the dense velour of the fonds d’huit. The 16 Dexter Geigen, which begins at middle C, is a broad and rosiny string of both solo and ensemble capability, adding gravity to the right hand without weight. It was made from the 8 Viola that was in the church’s original organ, a rank that had only extended to 4 C, with a borrowed capped metal bass. 

The 8 Trumpet is broad, warm, and round, with English shallots and bells of higher lead content than the division’s fluework. It nobly melds into the ensemble without making a brash entrance. It is actually an upward extension of the Pedal reed unit, playing on the Great but being of the Pedal.

The notably potent Swell department is home to the second, slightly brighter plenum. I did not want to overdevelop the unenclosed Positiv and leave the church with a vestigial, anemic Swell. While the Great Chorus Mixture IV assumes a predictable American formula, the Swell Mixture II–IV was composed for sparkle and clarity without losing its integrative powers. This is accomplished by having the quints and unisons either in balance or favoring the unisons at all times (which has great benefits in hymn accompaniment and contrapuntal music), and keeping a unison pitch at the top of the harmonic stack except for a very brief, essentially unnoticeable two-note break near the top of the keyboard. 

The Swell strings are firm and deliberately incisive. Two powerful wooden flutes of double-mouth construction come from the 1919 Hall organ formerly in the Swedenborgian church in New York City, a 38-rank instrument that I acquired when that building was remodeled. The 8 Doppelgedeckt  seems exceptionally present at the console, yet is buoyant in the nave. The orchestral “spit” in the harmonic range of the 4 Holzdoppelquerpfeife is extraordinary, and the stop is worthy of copying in the future. 

Faith Lutheran’s original organ had a handful of “wired” mutations, taken from the unified ranks of the small Swell division. Such practice can never meet with true success, because these harmonics must be independently scaled, voiced, and finished, and the laws of physics make it impossible for them ever to be in tune. The new organ’s independent Nazard and Tierce ranks are joined on one slider in deference to the budget. Although flute-scaled, the chameleon-like Cornetto II serves as a pointed Sesquialtera when drawn with the 8 flute, yet forms a round Cornet of French flavor when drawn with the entire flute choir. The tierce remains unbroken throughout the compass, and was actually made from a fine 2 rank that was in our stock, appropriately rescaled and revoiced.

The Swell 8 Trompette, with Bertounèche shallots and harmonic resonators, is significantly more brilliant than its Great counterpart. The full-length resonators of the 16 Basson assure grandeur and richness in anthem accompaniments. Half-length resonators always fall short of the mark, a imprudent expedient, especially in situations like this, where the worthier compromise is to extend the 16 stop down from the 8 Hautbois.

When Albert Jensen-Moulton, general manager of Glück Pipe Organs, devised the layout of the new organ, he placed the Positiv in “Brust” position, immediately behind the façade on the right side, in juxtaposition to the Great to its left and the Swell behind. It is in close proximity to the singers and instrumentalists, and enjoys the distinct physical separation sought in a Baroque tonal æsthetic. The metal flute choir (8 capped, 4 chimneyed, and 2 open) forms the perfect continuo organ, its varied pipe forms avoiding the risk of duplicating or triplicating other manual stops. 

The instrument stands on slider soundboards, but the occasional extrapolation of ranks on electro-pneumatic unit actions expands the registrational possibilities, particularly in the Positiv. The center of gravity can be shifted by the warm and singing 8 Spitzflöte, the other rank that was extended upward from the Pedal division. Once again, it is scaled and voiced as a Pedal stop, but balances perfectly here, with freedom of tonal finishing in the treble range. The 8 Clarinet, poised for dialogue with the Swell tierce combination, has a more “antique” sound than its name implies, enhanced by the release characteristics of the pallets. Its color can be shifted quite effectively with other stops in the division, expanding its solo capabilities. The Positiv and Great manuals can be exchanged in order to accommodate music of the later French schools.

The Pedal is based upon the 16 Holzviolon, an open wood string stop also selected from the Swedenborgian organ. It was in rough shape, with its mitered basses broken and only two octaves of wood pipes, but it was needed to lend pitch definition to the Pedal line. While we could have completed the treble with metal pipes, the very capable pipemakers at OSI crafted matching wooden trebles as well as Haskell re-entrant tubes for the bottom four notes. This stop enables the Pedal to steer in contrasting directions: a gentle, clarified, open chorus, by adding the 8 and 4 Spitzflötes, or a bolder sound, using the 8 Octave and 4 Fifteenth. The stopped wood 16 Infrabass, retained from the previous organ, provides a solid foundation, and other mezzo-forte borrows from the manual divisions make up the rest of this flexible arrangement. The full-length 16
Posaune has spotted metal bells in the bottom octave to inject brightness into the round, firm, rolling tone. It is extended to 8 pitch, and is available on both the Great and Positiv manuals.

The salient factors in place that contributed to the success of this project include a supportive pastorate, an enthusiastic and generous congregation, a Minister of Music who tirelessly educated himself through research and inquiry, and a truly knowledgeable, interdisciplinary consultant who guided the project without ever interfering with the artistic process. These elements paved the way for Glück Pipe Organs, our suppliers, our subcontractors, and all those involved in the enlarging of the church complex to achieve this long-anticipated goal.

—Sebastian M. Glück

Artistic and Tonal Director

Cover photo by Albert Jensen-Moulton

 

For information: 

212/608-5651

www.gluckpipeorgans.com

 

Glџck Pipe Organs Opus 13 (2011)

Faith Lutheran Church, New Providence, New Jersey

GREAT (Manual II)

16 Dexter Geigen 34 pipes 50% tin, slotted, from C25

8 Præstant 58 pipes polished zinc and 50% tin

8 Harmonic Flute 49 pipes 50% tin, C1–G#9 from Spitzflöte

8 Doppelgedeckt from Swell

8 Viole de Gambe from Swell

4 Octave 58 pipes 50% tin

2 Fifteenth 58 pipes 50% tin

Chorus Mixture IV 232 pipes 50% tin

8 Trumpet 28 pipes 30% tin, harmonic (Pedal extension)

Chimes 25 tubes G20–G44

Great Silent

16 Swell to Great

8 Swell to Great

4 Swell to Great

8 Positiv to Great

SWELL (Manual III)

8 Viole de Gambe 58 pipes 50% tin, slotted

8 Voix Céleste 46 pipes 50% tin, slotted, from C13

8 Doppelgedeckt 58 pipes wood, double mouths, stopped

4 Principal 58 pipes 50% tin

4 Holzdoppelquerpfeife 58 pipes wood, double mouths, harmonic

2 Gemshorn 58 pipes 50% tin

Cornetto II 116 pipes 50% tin

Mixture II–IV 176 pipes 50% tin

16 Basson 12 pipes 50% tin

8 Trompette 58 pipes 50% tin, harmonic

8 Hautbois 58 pipes 50% tin

Tremulant

16 Swell to Swell

4 Swell to Swell

Chimes

POSITIV (Manual I)

8 Spitzflöte 16 pipes 50% tin (Pedal extension)

8 Viole de Gambe from Swell

8 Bourdon 58 pipes 50% tin

4 Rohrflöte 58 pipes 50% tin

2 Recorder 58 pipes 50% tin

8 Clarinet 58 pipes 30% tin

Tremulant

8 Trumpet from Great

8 Hautbois from Swell

8 Swell to Positiv

Great/Positiv Transfer

PEDAL

16 Holzviolon 30 pipes wood, C1–D#4 with re-entrant tubes

16 Infrabass 30 pipes wood

8 Octave 30 pipes zinc and 50% tin

8 Spitzflöte 30 pipes zinc and 50% tin

8 Gedeckt from Swell

4 Fifteenth 12 pipes 50% tin

4 Spitzflöte 12 pipes 50% tin

16 Posaune 12 pipes zinc and 50% tin

16 Basson from Swell

8 Trumpet 30 pipes zinc and 30% tin

8 Basson from Swell

4 Hautbois from Swell

8 Great to Pedal

8 Swell to Pedal

8 Positiv to Pedal

Great Chorus Mixture IV

C1 19.22.26.29

C13 15.19.22.26

C25 12.15.19.22

C37 08.12.15.19

C49 01.08.12.15

 

40 stops

32 ranks

Swell Cornetto II

C1 12.17 unbroken

 

Swell Mixture II–IV

C1 19.22

D15 15.19.22

F#43 12.15.19.22

C#50 08.12.15.19

D#52 01.08.12.15

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