Cover Feature

November 2, 2015

Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc.,

Warrensburg, Missouri

Catalina United Methodist Church, Tucson, Arizona

When Quimby Pipe Organs (QPO) was awarded the contract to build a new instrument for Catalina United Methodist Church (Catalina UMC) in Tucson, Arizona, the memory gates were opened for me. Little did I know as a grade school student that one day as a member of the QPO team I would be building a future replacement instrument for Catalina. What follows is a trip down memory lane, which many readers may already know.

If you see my name at the end of this brief article, you may know who I am. I am the son of organ professor Roy Andrew Johnson, Jr., who moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1966 to teach at the University of Arizona. Therefore, I consider Tucson my home, since that is where I grew up.

As a teenager, my first job was with local organbuilder David McDowell. One of the first tunings I ever accomplished took place in 1974 with David McDowell at Catalina UMC on the 1959 three-manual Reuter pipe organ. In 1966, the Reuter pipe organ was the premier organ in the city of Tucson. And in 1966 the University of Arizona, where my father was the organ professor and counterpoint teacher, had no recital instrument of its own for practice and performance. Students had to use instruments in neighboring churches for some of their lessons and all of their recitals. The major recitals, including faculty recitals, were held at Catalina UMC, because it truly had the best instrument in the city and was only one and a half miles from the School of Music. It didn’t hurt that my father was also the organist at Catalina UMC.

When the opportunity came to build the replacement organ for Catalina UMC, I knew it needed to meet my father’s ideals. The new instrument had to “play church” first and foremost; recitals and performances of standard recital literature were to be secondary, and yet it would still be one of the major performance pipe organs in Tucson. Its role with the University of Arizona as a recital instrument has become secondary because my father was finally able to achieve his goal of a recital instrument in 1994—the three-manual Schoenstein organ in the ideal acoustic in Holsclaw Hall on the university campus. 

The new Catalina instrument presented an interesting challenge in both the visual and the tonal design. The building is a very large and asymmetrical room, whose asymmetry the eye does not initially perceive. The space was built in 1956–59. The stained glass windows have a very dramatic color pattern that plays with the sunlight, depending on the time of day. The plan for the new façade had to take these factors into consideration. We had to respect the asymmetry of the architect’s design, but also take advantage of the play of color from the stained glass windows. The new façade is installed in front of the original grille and is made of polished zinc pipes from the Great and Pedal Diapasons. It is remarkable how the façade pipes add to the architect’s vision as the sun travels through the day and the pipes reflect the different colors from the stained glass windows.

Tonally, as stated above, the new instrument must “play church” first. When you peruse the specifications, you will notice that there is quite a bit of color. There are also multiple Diapason choruses for choral accompaniment and congregational singing. The instrument also plays performance literature exceptionally well. This new organ might push a few accepted boundaries. For example, the Great 8 Open Diapason is a scale #42. This is a size not seen since the ‘teens and twenties of the previous century. The rest of the pipe organ is based on this initial scale.

The Swell Diapason is scaled smaller than the Great Diapason but is voiced to the same power level as the Great. Its placement in the expression chamber brings it to its expected subservient dynamic level. The Choir Chorus is intentionally voiced more softly than the Great and Swell. To increase the versatility of the instrument, the non-chorus ranks of the Great are enclosed in their own expression box. For this pipe organ, the decision was made to let the strings be strings. They have some bite. Other ranks bridge the difference to the flutes, which all have their own unique color. An unusual feature is the inclusion of two high-pressure reeds. One is unified at 16-8-4 and is a Harmonic Trompette with Bertouneche shallots. The other is an 8 Tuba of smooth tone.

The pipe organ at Catalina UMC is a large, versatile instrument that is exceptionally well suited to sacred literature and is an outstanding recital instrument as well. I believe my father would be proud to play this instrument if he were here today.

—Eric D. Johnson, Head Reed Voicer

Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc.

Warrensburg, Missouri


Eric Johnson’s father, Roy Andrew Johnson, Jr. (A.Mus.D., AAGO), was professor of organ at the University of Arizona from 1966–1995. His teachers were Robert Rayfield, Robert Noehren, Robert Glasgow, and Marilyn Mason. He was attacked and killed in a random act of violence while returning home from performing in a University of Arizona program at a retirement community south of Tucson on February 28, 1995.


GREAT (Unenclosed)

16 Bourdon (Pedal)

8 Diapason  61 pipes

4 Octave   61 pipes

223 Twelfth   61 pipes

2 Fifteenth   61 pipes

113 Mixture IV 244 pipes

GREAT (Enclosed)

8 Harmonic Flute TC   49 pipes

8 Stopped Diapason   61 pipes

8 Violoncello   61 pipes

8 Violoncello Celeste GG   54 pipes

4 Wald Flute   61 pipes

16 Contra Oboe (Swell)

8 Trumpet   61 pipes

4 Clarion   61 pipes


Chimes 8

Imperial Trumpet (Antiphonal)

Antiphonal on Great

16 Great to Great

Great Unison Off

4 Great to Great 




16 Spitz Flute   73 pipes

8 Diapason 61 pipes

8 Chimney Flute   61 pipes

8 Gamba   61 pipes

8 Gamba Celeste GG   54 pipes

8 Spitz Flute (extension)

8 Spitz Flute Celeste TC   49 pipes

8 Muted Viol   61 pipes

8 Muted Viol Celeste TC   49 pipes

4 Octave   61 pipes

4 Triangle Flute   61 pipes

223 Nazard   61 pipes

2 Flageolet   61 pipes

135 Tierce   61 pipes

2 Mixture IV–V 293 pipes

16 Contra Oboe   73 pipes

8 Trumpet   61 pipes

8 Oboe (extension)

8 Vox Humana   61 pipes

4 Clarion   61 pipes


Antiphonal on Swell

16 Swell to Swell

Swell Unison Off

4 Swell to Swell


8 Tuba Mirabilis (Solo)

CHOIR (Enclosed)

16 Contra Dolcan   73 pipes

8 Geigen Diapason   61 pipes

8 Flauto Traverso   61 pipes

8 Gemshorn   61 pipes

8 Gemshorn Celeste TC   49 pipes

8 Dolcan (extension) 

8 Dolcan Celeste TC   49 pipes

4 Geigen Octave   61 pipes

4 Gedeckt   61 pipes

2 Harmonic Piccolo   61 pipes

Mixture III–IV 207 pipes

8 Clarinet   61 pipes

16 Harmonic Trumpet (Pedal)

8 Tuba Mirabilis (Solo)

8 Harmonic Trumpet (Pedal)

8 English Horn (Solo) 

4 Harmonic Clarion (Pedal)


Antiphonal on Choir

16 Choir to Choir

Choir Unison Off

4 Choir to Choir


Chimes (Great)

8 Harp (Solo)

4 Celesta (Solo)

Cymbelstern 8 Bells


SOLO (Enclosed in Choir expression box)

8 Open Diapason (Pedal)

8 Solo Flute   73 pipes

8 Bourdon (Pedal)

8 Spitz Flute (Swell)

8 Dulciana (Choir) 

4 Solo Flute (extension)

8 Tuba Mirabilis   61 pipes

    (Does not couple to Great)

16 Harmonic Trumpet (Pedal)   

8 Harmonic Trumpet (Pedal)

8 Oboe (Swell)

8 English Horn GG   54 pipes

8 Clarinet (Choir)

4 Harmonic Clarion (Pedal)


Antiphonal on Solo

16 Solo to Solo 

Solo Unison Off

4 Solo to Solo 


Chimes (Great)

8 Harp

4 Celesta

SOLO (Unenclosed)

8 Imperial Trumpet (Antiphonal)

ANTIPHONAL (Prepared for in console and Peterson ICS-4000)

8 Diapason   61 pipes

8 Bourdon   85 pipes

4 Octave   61 pipes

4 Bourdon (extension)

2 Fifteenth   61 pipes

2 Mixture III 122 pipes

8 Imperial Trumpet   61 pipes

8 Hooded Trumpet            61 pipes


ANTIPHONAL PEDAL (Prepared for in console and Peterson ICS-4000)

16 Bourdon (Antiphonal)

8 Bourdon (Antiphonal)


32 Contra Bourdon 73 pipes

32 Contra Violone 44 notes

16 Open Diapason 73 pipes

16 Bourdon (extension) 

16 Violone (extension) 

16 Spitz Flute (Swell)

16 Contra Dolcan (Choir)

8 Octave (extension) 

8 Bourdon (extension) 

8 Spitz Flute (Swell)

8 Dolcan (Choir) 

4 Super Octave (extension) 

4 Bourdon (extension) 

223 Mixture II (extension)

32 Grave Harmonics-derived 

32 Contra Trombone   97 pipes

16 Contra Trumpet (Swell)

16 Contra Oboe (Swell)

8 Trumpet (extension) 

8 Trompette (Swell)

8 Oboe (Swell)

4 Clarion (extension) 

4 Oboe Clarion (Swell)

4 Clarinet (Choir)

8 Tuba Mirabilis (Solo) 

8 Harmonic Trumpet (Choir)





Great to Pedal 8-4

Swell to Pedal 8-4

Choir to Pedal 8-4

Solo to Pedal 8-4

Antiphonal to Pedal 8

Swell to Great 16-8-4

Choir to Great 16-8-4

Solo to Great 16-8-4

Choir to Swell 8

Solo to Swell 16-8-4

Great to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 16-8-4

Solo to Choir 16-8-4

Great to Solo 8

Swell to Solo 8

All Swells to Swell

Manual Transfer



Great Organ Thumb pistons 1–10

Swell Organ Thumb pistons 1–10

Choir Organ Thumb pistons 1–10

Solo Organ Thumb pistons 1–10

Antiphonal Organ Thumb Pistons 1–4

Pedal Organ Thumb pistons 1–4, and 1–8 toe studs

General Thumb pistons 1–12, 13–18 only on toe studs


“Next” Piston Sequencer

“Previous” Piston Sequencer

Set Piston

General Cancel Piston



General Crescendo Pedal 60 positions, three adjustable and one standard

Great Expression Pedal

Swell Expression Pedal

Choir-Solo Expression Pedal



Great to Pedal - Thumb and toe paddle

Swell to Pedal - Thumb and toe paddle

Choir to Pedal - Thumb and toe paddle

Solo to Pedal - Thumb and toe paddle

Swell to Great - Thumb and toe paddle

Choir to Great - Thumb

Solo to Great - Thumb and toe paddle

Swell to Choir - Thumb

32 Contra Bourdon - Thumb and toe paddle

32 Contra Trombone - Thumb and toe paddle

32 Contra Violone - Thumb and toe paddle

Sforzando - Thumb and toe paddle

Cymbelstern - Toe paddle

All Swells to Swell - Thumb

Manual Transfer - Thumb and indicator light

Reeds/Mixtures Off - Thumb, toe paddle, and indicator light

All Doubles Off - Thumb, toe paddle, and indicator light



MIDI In and Out


Total ranks: 57 


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