Cover feature (November 2005)
Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company, St. Louis, Missouri
Opus 104: Zion Lutheran Church, Portland, Oregon
From the Organbuilder
In March of 2000, Mrs. Helen Hollenbeck, director of music at Zion Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, contacted our company about a new pipe organ. I was invited to come to Zion Lutheran Church to see the facilities and to meet with the organ committee.
In July of 2000, I visited Zion for the first time. I was impressed with the fine architecture of Pietro Belluschi—his design of the church is outstanding. At the time the new church was built, limited funds for a pipe organ were available. Zion decided to purchase a used organ. Mr. Belluschi installed this instrument on the choir balcony behind a radiating wall; the radius of this wall is 30 feet.
The organ committee, under the advice of their design architect, Mr. Joachim Grube of Portland, expressed their wish to keep the design of the new organ as Mr. Belluschi had originated. I agreed with the committee’s intention, and shortly after our meeting I submitted a proposal for the musical needs of Zion along with a visual design drawing. I kept the visual design simple but elegant. The new organ is now located again behind the radiating wall. A newly constructed organ chamber houses the organ apparatus and the pipes. The previous openings in the wall have been greatly enlarged, and the new organ case features the pipes of the Hauptwerk Prinzipal 8' and some pipes of the Pedal Oktavbass 8¢ exposed in the façade.
The layout of the divisions is symmetrical: the Great division is to the left and right side behind the façade pipes; the Swell division is centered above the keydesk of the organ; the Pedal division, which has the tallest pipes, is to the back of the organ chamber and centered behind the Swell division. The tonal design will support the strong musical tradition of the Lutheran church. The instrument is flexible and will be able to support congregational singing, choral anthems, and solo organ literature for preludes and postludes. The façade pipes are 75% tin, which contributes to the bright sound. The wooden pipes are made of poplar, spruce and mahogany.
We are especially grateful to the congregation for their enthusiasm and assistance. Many members spent a hot Sunday afternoon unloading the organ with our organ builders. We are thankful to the organ committee who facilitated the organ building process.
The following craftsmen participated in the construction of the organ for Zion Lutheran Church, Opus 104:
Alexander I. Bronitsky
Eileen M. Gay
Alex D. Leshchenko
From the Director of Music and Organist
“You give it to them; they gather it; you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.” (Psalm 104:29)
As we gathered at Zion for the organ dedication, we were reminded of the many blessings that God showers upon us. We celebrated the gift of a new pipe organ—an instrument that will be used to praise God, lead His people in worship, give opportunity for teaching music and organ playing, and provide outreach to the Portland community. This was a huge undertaking for Zion Lutheran Church and, for most of us, a once in a lifetime experience.
When I became director of music and organist at Zion in 1998, I never dreamed that I would become involved in a pipe organ building project. What a journey it has been! The search committee spent hours researching and visiting instruments. There were endless meetings, much prayer, and lots of hard work needed to define the type of instrument that would best serve Zion’s congregation. One of the most critical elements was the historical nature of Zion’s building. The elegant simplicity of the Belluschi architecture would, without a doubt, become the inspiration for the design of the new organ case. Also, the tonal resources would need to be eclectic so that all styles of music—from Renaissance to the twenty-first century and beyond—could be played authentically. It was important that the organ live for the future, as well as for the past and present. With this in mind, the search went out to find a builder who would work with the specific needs of the Zion congregation. Martin Ott immediately connected with us by his understanding of Pietro Belluschi’s design philosophy.
I first became familiar with Martin Ott and his work when I attended the dedication of the two Ott pipe organs at the Mt. Angel Abbey in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Later, when I was preparing to complete work on my master’s degree, I chose to perform my graduate recital on the gallery organ at Mt. Angel Abbey Chapel. The Ott Opus 104 at Zion is just as inspiring and a great blessing to play.
It has been such a privilege to be part of this project. It took an enormous team effort. For this, I am grateful for the support and encouragement of Zion’s members and friends, as well as Zion’s pastors—Stephen Krueger, Paul Hilgendorf, and Ty Miles. I am also extremely thankful for the fundamental understanding that is present here at Zion, for the importance of music in the life of this congregation that was so critical to the building of this new organ. For all of this, God is to be praised and glorified! We have indeed been “filled with good things.”
From the Architect
I hope my work has gone unnoticed. As people experience the sound and sight of the new organ and appreciate the improved lighting and the renovated choir loft finishes I hope it never appears that any design work occurred.
It was the goal of the renovation plans to restore the design of the building’s original architect and to feature the work of the organ designer without introducing any additional aesthetic elements. A significant effort has been made by the design and construction teams to affect this transformation, but I hope this work appears transparent. I hope that the sanctuary will continue to be viewed as the work of Pietro Belluschi, now featuring an organ by Martin Ott.
Architectural consulting for this project was begun in 2000 by Joachim Grube of the Portland firm Yost Grube Hall. Mr. Grube collaborated with Pietro Belluschi in designing several Portland churches and has served Zion as a friend and advisor since Belluschi’s death in 1994. Mr. Grube assisted the congregation’s organ committee in selecting an organ design that would be complementary to the distinctive architectural character of the space. Following this preliminary planning, while the organ awaited fabrication, I began the work of planning and preparing the second floor of the sanctuary for the instrument’s arrival.
Renovation of the choir loft and organ chamber began following Easter services in 2005. Two weeks were spent removing hazardous materials that were used in the building’s original construction and following this abatement the rear wall of the choir loft was removed in order to extract the old organ. Marceau and Associates Pipe Organ Builders recovered all of the original pipes to be reused in other organs, while the largest rank of pipes was stored and reinstalled in our new instrument. Further demolition was done in the organ chamber before the curved wall was rebuilt in a configuration to accommodate the new organ.
Rebuilding these spaces provided an opportunity to improve lighting and accessibility of the choir loft for use in performances. The original risers were removed and the original tile floor finish was replaced to provide a uniform floor level allowing flexibility of movement by the choir and instrumentalists. A select group of original light fixtures was removed and replaced by improved fixtures and controls that will allow for multiple lighting scenes, which can be adjusted to complement varying musical arrangements.
Thank you to all of the members of the design, construction and organ building teams for your efforts and cooperation in providing this wonderful improvement to Zion’s worship space.
—Craig Rice, AIA
History of Zion’s New Organ
In 1999, the new organist/choir director and minister of music, Helen Hollenbeck, presented an evaluation of Zion’s current organ. Her personal experience with the instrument, in addition to her discussions with previous Zion organists, especially Tim Drews, pointed up major deficiencies in both the physical and musical quality of Zion’s pipe organ. Its condition had been deteriorating over the previous decade so that it was no longer possible to maintain it as the fine instrument it once was.
The board of trustees formed a committee to determine the possibility of getting a new organ for Zion. The question was whether Zion should purchase a used instrument, as it had done in the past, and attempt to fit it to our sanctuary, or contact a builder and have a new organ built to fit our needs and the marvelous acoustics of our church. In order to best serve the needs of the congregation, it was decided that a new organ be built, if possible.
The committee began to contact builders, not only in the Portland area, but also in the Northwest and in other areas of the country. Builders who expressed an interest in working with us were contacted. Not only did they come to Zion to see the building and experience its sound, but the committee in turn visited several of their instruments to see and hear how the organs fit their surroundings, both visually and musically. Because Zion is listed on the National Historic Registry, it was necessary that the builder produce an instrument to fit our musical and visual aesthetics as well as remain within our financial means.
Three organ builders were chosen and asked to submit proposals. The builder who seemed to fit us best in all categories was the Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company of St. Louis. In September 2001, the board was presented with the committee’s findings and at the same meeting they charged the committee to contract with Mr. Ott to begin work on the Zion instrument, to begin raising the money for the purchase of the new organ, and to handle the remodel of the balcony to accommodate the organ. Delays in fund-raising and getting approval from the State of Oregon for the renovations pushed back the date of the new instrument.
In spring of 2005, a contractor was engaged to work with Zion and Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company to assure that the balcony would accommodate the new instrument. The organ was delivered to the church on Sunday, June 5, and the congregation was there to greet it and help unload the thousands of pieces that make up this musical puzzle. Assembly began the very next day, June 6, 2005. Tonal finishing was begun on July 17 and the organ was consecrated to the Glory of God and the edification of all on Sunday, August 14, 2005.
The inaugural concert was played by David Dahl on September 30. Concerts continue this season: November 20, Helen Hollenbeck; February 19, Portland AGO chapter members; April 30, Tim and Nancy Nickel, Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf; June 18, Jonas Nordwall.
—Charles P. Kovach
Chair, Zion Organ Committee
Ott Opus 104
30 stops, 40 ranks
16' Bordun 56 pipes
8' Prinzipal 56 pipes
8' Rohrflöte 56 pipes
4' Oktave 56 pipes
4' Nachthorn 56 pipes
22/3' Quinte* 56 pipes
2' Oktave 56 pipes
13/5' Terz* 56 pipes
Mixtur IV 224 pipes
8' Trompete 56 pipes
8' Viola 56 pipes
8' Viola Celeste TC 44 pipes
8' Bordun 56 pipes
4' Prinzipal 56 pipes
4' Traversflöte 56 pipes
Kornett II TC 88 pipes
2' Flöte 56 pipes
11/3' Quinte 56 pipes
Mixture IV 224 pipes
16' Bombarde* 56 pipes
8' Trompette 56 pipes
8' Krummhorn 56 pipes
16' Offenbass 30 pipes
16' Subbass 30 pipes
8' Oktavbass 30 pipes
8' Pommer 22 pipes
4' Choralbass 30 pipes
Mixtur IV 120 pipes
16' Posaune 30 pipes
8' Trompete* 30 pipes
HW/Ped with reversible thumb & toe pistons
SW/Ped with reversible thumb & toe pistons
SW/HW toe piston
Attached keydesk, AGO standards
Case made of oak
Mechanical key action
Electric stop action
Combination action with 128 levels:
HW 1-2-3-4-5-6 thumb
SW 1-2-3-4-5-6 thumb
PED 1-2-3-4-5-6 thumb & toe
General 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 thumb & toe
Tutti–thumb & toe
Tuning after Fisk I