Cover Feature

February 4, 2016

C. B. Fisk, Inc., Gloucester, Massachusetts, Opus 146

Chapel of the Holy Spirit, 

Christ Church, Glendale, Ohio

Glendale, Ohio, incorporated in 1855, is an enchanting, historic village of 2,200 inhabitants located 15 miles north of Cincinnati. One of the earliest planned communities in the state, Glendale was positioned next to a railroad that originally provided transportation to local industries and to downtown Cincinnati. These rails now carry only freight but are still part of Glendale’s unique ambiance. Its winding streets and charming Village Square are surrounded by many parks and large Greenbelt preserves. It is the only village in Ohio designated a National Historic Landmark.

In 1865, only 10 years after Glendale’s incorporation, Christ Church, Episcopal, was founded, and soon thereafter an elegant Victorian era stone church with surrounding campus was built. Nearly 150 years later, in the spring of 2014, Christ Church completed an exciting new addition to their campus—the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Attractive, modern in design, and filled with light, the chapel was designed by City Studios Architecture of Cincinnati. Acoustically, the new space is reverberant, well balanced, and nicely supportive of both organ and choral sound. It is outfitted with movable furnishings, allowing for great flexibility and multiple configurations for various types of worship and performance. 

Discussions focusing on a new tracker organ for the chapel began with Bryan Mock, organist and director of music at Christ Church, in the summer of 2011, and by May of 2014, C. B. Fisk was chosen to be the builder of a two-manual, 25-stop instrument. A contract was signed in July of the same year. Dr. Mock, a past president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, presides over a comprehensive music ministry that involves numerous volunteer musicians and encompasses four choirs. From the beginning, he insisted that the primary function of the new organ be to provide fitting, sympathetic accompaniment of his multiple choirs. Naturally, liturgy and literature were central considerations as well, but our charge was to strike just the right balance, with choral accompaniment being the top priority.

Constructed in our Gloucester workshop during the winter and spring of 2015, Opus 146 was delivered to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in early August. On October 25, one week after the tonal finishing was completed, the organ was dedicated in a service of Evensong, with the Holy Spirit as the theological motif. Dr. Mock presided at the organ, presenting Veni Creator-based music of Nicolas de Grigny, Maurice Duruflé, and J. S. Bach. Christ Church’s 30-voice Adult Choir, accompanied by the new organ, also participated in the liturgy, singing Thomas Attwood Walmisley’s Service in D Minor and Michael McCarthy’s choral arrangement of O Love of God, How Strong and True.

Charles Nazarian’s striking case design for Opus 146 was accomplished in a 1:16-scale physical 3D model, a process that has been the norm in the Fisk workshop for over five decades. As the photos show, the instrument occupies one corner of the chapel space. In plan, the shape of the façade is the result of two intersecting planes tailored to this corner location. The interior layout of the organ reflects this shaping, with the Great and Swell divisions placed behind the hammered spotted metal Principal 8 in the three right-hand façade compartments (the Great is at impost level, with the Swell just above, oriented back-to-front), and the Pedal division located behind the wooden Violone 16 in the two left-hand towers. With regard to the development of the visual design, Charles Nazarian has written:

 

One of the most interesting features of the room architecture is the way intersecting wall planes and wood paneling form dynamic triangular and polygonal shapes. Those interesting shapes provided the angular design language that helps the organ to feel at home in the Chapel’s architectural context. On first view, the most striking example of this shaping may be the organ’s roof. It is deliberately allowed to “fly” above the square ends of the casework with exciting polygonal angles that give the entire organ a sense of being ready to lift off into flight. . . . Since the Chapel is named for the Holy Spirit whose traditional symbol is the Dove, the theme of flight is represented in abstract forms of the pierced pipe-shades over the pipe arrays. The composition of the five shades is
identical, but each one is different in scale and angle, tailored to the pipe tops below. In this case we saw a wonderful opportunity to represent the Dove and to give a signature design element to the organ. The pierced panels also provide a variegated screen for tonal egress.

The request to display the Tetragrammaton was answered by creating three indented panels above the console, just under the three metal pipe arrays. The lettering appears in the center panel. The organ console features vertical stop jambs that add sculptural interest to the casework and afford easy access for registration changes by the musician who is often conducting the Choir. The intended Choir location, in the large room indentation to the right of the organ, provides good lines of sight for the singers to watch the music director at the organ console.

In overview, the design of Opus 146 has taken us down some anticipated as well as some exciting unexpected paths. In every aspect of the organ’s development we have asked the question, “What will make this instrument mechanically, tonally, and visually a perfect match for its home with a personality like no other?”

 

Reflecting on the presence of the Tetragrammaton on the organ case, music director Bryan Mock wrote in the dedication leaflet, “Christ Church Glendale is dedicated to the second person of the Trinity, our new Chapel to the third person, and the Fisk organ bears the Tetragrammaton (), that is, the Hebrew letters for the unpronounceable and ineffable Name of God, thus bringing us around full circle to the symbolic abiding presence of the Holy Trinity within our community.”

Tonal finishing of Opus 146’s 1,420 pipes took place from early September through mid-October and was under the direction of Fisk voicer Nami Hamada. Nami had visited the chapel the previous September in order to get a first-hand look at the space and to listen to music being made by instrumentalists and singers performing from various points in the room. An acoustical profile was created in imagination, thus beginning the tonal design process. What Nami learned informed countless decisions as we scaled the pipework, computed mouth widths, chose pipe materials, and settled on wind pressures. Recently reflecting on her experiences working in the chapel, Nami Hamada wrote:

 

When we start to voice an organ, the first thing we need to do is to learn what the characteristics of the room’s acoustics are. As we began voicing the Principal 8 of the Great for the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, we did a lot of analysis of the room by experimenting with changing the tone and volume of the pipes. One thing that became clear was that the space was very sensitive to the number of chairs present (and, by extension, to the amount of floor area that was exposed), as well as the number of people in the Chapel. The space had a pleasant reverberation and good bass support. The treble range, while not overpowering, sustained its clarity.

Once we learned about the room, we continued with the voicing of each pipe, carefully keeping in mind the changes to the acoustic when the room was in use for various occasions. One of the specific challenges to the voicing of Opus 146 was to achieve the proper volume level of each stop without forfeiting the expressive qualities and distinctive colors of each voice. Another challenge was to find just the right balance between the principal and flute choruses. 

The light and responsive key action of Opus 146 allowed the pipes’ speech to be voiced freely and expressively, which in turn offers the organist the ability to
control the pipes’ speech. The ability to have “flexible” wind, by disengaging the largest winker, enables expression through emphasis or accent not unlike the human lungs, especially in earlier music and hymn playing. For me, this means that the organ can perform a wider range of repertoire very convincingly, and its capacity to lead hymn singing is enhanced.  

While the various flue choruses make available a wide variety of tonal colors, the Hautbois 8 on the Swell provides a quiet reed color, under expression. The Trumpet 8 on the Great and the Trombone 16 on the Pedal add a wonderful strength and support to create a full and exciting tutti sound in the chapel.

All of us at C. B. Fisk are grateful for having had the opportunity to build Opus 146 for Christ Church Glendale. It has recently come to light that this instrument will be made available to organ students of Professor Michael Unger at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Thus, in addition to its many important sacred roles in the chapel, the organ will take on an additional role of great consequence—that of teacher. We couldn’t be more pleased.

—David C. Pike

Senior Vice President & Tonal Director

C. B. Fisk, Inc.

 

From the organist and director of music

Christ Church Glendale, an Episcopal Church in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, was founded in 1865. Three years later the parish built a worship space in Victorian Gothic style, complete with Connick windows and a Hilborne Roosevelt organ, Opus 25. The parish built a new education building between this church and the adjacent parish house in the mid-twentieth century. This new construction included a small chapel designed in scale to be primarily used by children. Over time, adults also chose to use this space, and attendance quickly outstripped the chapel’s capacity. This mid-century building was demolished and a new education building was built in 2014, including a large chapel with seating capacity for over 200 congregants. This chapel was carefully engineered and designed for optimal resonant acoustics for clear and beautiful production of music and speech.

Initially there was little planning for a new organ in the new Chapel of the Holy Spirit, as discussions centered on alternative musical expressions within the worship life of the church. Eventually the parish decided that a new organ, of the best quality available, should be built for the space. This organ should, within the constraints of space and resources, be as flexible as possible in accompanying corporate worship within current and foreseeable trends in Episcopal liturgy and the needs of the community. The C. B. Fisk organ company of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was ultimately chosen for its proposed sensitivity to the 21st-century design of the room visually and the superior musical quality of their extant instruments.

Our Fisk, Opus 146, continues to amaze and charm listeners with its beauty as a solo and accompanimental instrument in its acoustical and visual space. It has a warm and inviting sound that aids and supports both congregational and choral singing. It also renders beautifully singing solo stops and powerful pleno for a very wide spectrum of musical production, and I am certain that this instrument will continue to inspire many generations to come at Christ Church Glendale.

—Bryan K. Mock, DMA

Organist and Director of Music

Christ Church, Glendale, Ohio

 

GREAT – Manual I – 61 notes

16 Bourdon 

8 Principal 

8 Spire Flute 

4 Octave 

4 Chimney Flute 

223 Quinte 

2 Superoctave 

Mixture IV–V

8 Trumpet 

SWELL – Manual II – 61 notes, enclosed

8 Viole de gambe 

8 Voix céleste (t.c.)

8 Chimney Flute 

4 Traverse Flute 

223 Nasard 

2 Gemshorn 

135 Tierce 

113 Quinte 

8 Hautbois 

PEDAL – 32 notes

16 Violone 

16 Bourdon 

8 Octave 

8 Bourdon (ext 16 Bourdon)

4 Octave (ext 8 Octave)

16 Trombone 

8 Trumpet (ext 16 Trombone)

 

Couplers & Controls

Swell to Great

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell to Pedal 4

 

Flexible Wind knob

General Tremulant

 

Mechanical key action

Electric stop action

Combination action by SSOS

 

Fisk II temperament

Wind pressures: Manuals 214′′, Pedal 3′′

25 stops, 22 independent voices, 26 ranks

 

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