Cover Feature

The Reuter Organ Company 

Lawrence, Kansas

 

A profile of three recent 

projects honoring the 

company’s centennial 

In April 1917, a short article appeared in The Diapason announcing the founding of the Reuter Organ Company. Adolph Reuter, with years of experience gained from his employment at several North American organ builders, had assembled a team of workers to start his own company in Trenton, Illinois, and to begin building organs “second to none.” By November, the first organ had been installed at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Mattoon, Illinois, where it continues to be in regular use and to enhance the life of the parish and community.

We are pleased to mark our centennial year with this Diapason cover feature, which illustrates three of our recent projects as described in detail by our clients. Although each story is unique, each also has a recurring theme—the challenge of taking an existing instrument in need of renewal and with a complex history of previous work and additions, carefully evaluating its existing resources in conjunction with the needs of the church, and then renovating its best elements and incorporating them with custom-designed pipework and components to create a new musical instrument.

After one hundred years, our files are full of similar stories about both new and renovated organs at churches, universities, concert halls, and residences throughout the United States and beyond. We are so grateful for our clients and their support over the years. We believe that there will always be a place for the King of Instruments, and we renew our commitment to continue to build pipe organs that are “second to none” for another century!

—Ronald Krebs

Vice President

Reuter Organ Company

 

Trinity Lutheran Church

Houston, Texas

By the summer of 2014, it had become evident that the Holtkamp organ at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, was in desperate need of refurbishment. The organ was installed with the building of a new sanctuary in 1954 and had been a continual part of the music program of the downtown congregation.

The three-manual, 40-stop organ was typical of the period, as well as the tonal philosophy of the people responsible for its design. Mostly unenclosed, and with many independent principal and flue voices on low pressure, it was best at playing contrapuntal organ literature with clarity.

In 1978, extensive altering of mixture stops and preparations for additions were made by a local Houston firm, which also provided the church with a new console. However, many of the altered stops proved unusable in the ensemble, the console was unreliable, and the wind system was drawing in unconditioned outside air, which took its toll on the instrument.

A team of people including Mary Voigt (director of music and worship), Carla Barrows (principal organist), Vince Parks (consultant), and myself, along with a committee of lay people from the congregation, solicited proposals for work on the organ. While a number of proposals were received for the project, none approached the project with an eye toward a comprehensive musical enhancement. Our team at Trinity Downtown was focused on a vision of a superior musical instrument that could offer a wider color palette, more possibilities for accompanying the choir, greater power throughout the length of the nave, and reliability that would serve the congregation well for another 50 years or more.

After discarding various partial approaches that the congregation had been considering, three organbuilders of national reputation were asked to provide creative proposals. Following a thorough examination of the proposals, the Reuter Organ Company was entrusted with the work.

As enthusiasm and support for the project grew within the congregation, Trinity’s leadership ultimately decided on a renovation plan that would significantly enhance the original instrument. The plans for the new instrument envisioned the organ as primarily an inspiring leader of congregational singing and a useful accompaniment for all periods of choral repertoire. The new organ would be expected to have an expanded dynamic range with effective expression, fundamental tone that would energize the room, and sufficient color to capture the interest of every listener. It would need to render literature with integrity, but more importantly, this would be an organ for worship!

Trinity signed the contract with Reuter in June 2015. Four weeks later, the organ was completely removed with the goal of having it returned and ready for Christmas. This was an aggressive undertaking, as the work would include the installation of an antiphonal division in the chancel area that had not been part of the original organ. The Reuter Company delivered. The organ was dedicated on December 24, 2015. The congregation celebrated this special gift to herald the birth of Jesus Christ with a commanding new Trompette en Chamade.

The refurbished and enhanced Trinity Downtown organ is now a 50-rank, three-manual and pedal organ. The striking flamed copper façade pipes of the new instrument add to the beauty of the sanctuary that is graced by huge stained-glass windows and wood accents. Today, the organ continues to bless the congregation with wonderful music. The creativity, artistry, and craftsmanship of J. R. Neutel and the fine team from Reuter have exceeded our expectations.

—Michael Dorn

Senior Pastor

 

Trinity Lutheran Church

Houston, Texas

3 manuals, 50 ranks (2015)

GREAT

16 Prestant** (1–12 existing, 13–61 Sw)

8 Diapason* 61 pipes

8 Harmonic Flute* 49 pipes

    (1–12 Pos Spitzflute)

8 Singend Gedeckt 61 pipes

4 Octave* 61 pipes

4 Spillflute* 61 pipes

2 Super Octave* 61 pipes

IV Mixture* 244 pipes

8 Trumpet* 61 pipes 

8 Oboe (Sw)

8 Trompette en Chamade* 61 pipes

Tremolo

Chimes (console prep)

Mohnke Carillon (25 bells in tower)

Mohnke Cymbelstern (6 bells)

MIDI

SWELL (enclosed)

16 Lieblich Flute 61 pipes

8 Prestant** 61 pipes

8 Rohrflute 61 pipes

8 Gambe 61 pipes

8 Gambe Celeste (low F) 56 pipes

4 Principal** 61 pipes

4 Nachthorn 61 pipes

4 Lieblich Flute** (ext 16′) 24 pipes

223 Nazard** 61 pipes

2 Blockflute** 61 pipes

135 Tierce** 61 pipes

III Plein Jeu* 183 pipes

16 Oboe (TC, from 8)

8 Trompette* 61 pipes

8 Oboe* 61 pipes

Tremolo

MIDI

POSITIV

16 Lieblich Flute (Sw)

8 Prestant (Sw)

8 Copula 61 pipes

8 Spitzflute** 61 pipes

4 Principal** 61 pipes

4 Harmonic Flute* 61 pipes

2 Doublette 61 pipes

113 Quinte** 61 pipes

II Sesquialtera** 122 pipes

8 Cromorne* 61 pipes

8 Oboe (Sw)

16 Trompette en Chamade (TC, Gt)

8 Trompette en Chamade (Gt)

Tremolo

MIDI

PEDAL

32 Resultant

16 Principal* 32 pipes

16 Prestant (Gt)

16 Subbass 32 pipes

16 Lieblich Flute (Sw)

8 Octave** 32 pipes

8 Prestant (Sw)

8 Bourdon 32 pipes

8 Spitzflute (Pos)

8 Lieblich Flute (Sw)

4 Choral Bass 32 pipes

4 Rohrflute** 32 pipes

4 Spitzflute (Pos)

16 Double Trumpet (ext Gt)* 12 pipes

8 Trumpet 32 pipes

8 Oboe (Sw)

4 Schalmey 32 pipes

8 Trompette en Chamade (Gt)

MIDI

KRAKOSKY ANTIPHONAL (enclosed)

8 Principal* 61 pipes

8 Gedeckt* 61 pipes

8 Gemshorn* 61 pipes

8 Gemshorn Celeste (TC)* 49 pipes

4 Spitz Principal* 61 pipes

4 Gedeckt (ext 8′)* 12 pipes

223 Quinte* 61 pipes

2 Spitz Principal (ext 4′) 12 pipes

113 Quinte (ext 223′, top repeats)

8 Fagotto* 61 pipes

Tremolo

ANTIPHONAL PEDAL

16 Gedeckt (ext Ant 8′)* 12 pipes

8 Principal (Ant)

8 Gedeckt (Ant)

4 Octave (Ant 8)

16 Fagotto (ext Ant 8′)* 12 pipes

 

*New pipework

**Repurposed pipework

 

Central United Methodist Church

Traverse City, Michigan

Organ music and robust congregational singing has been a defining characteristic of worship at Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) for generations, largely due to the talent, charisma, and dedication of Robert Murphy, organist and music director from 1963 until his death in 2001. He left a sizable part of his estate to CUMC for the continued improvement of the organ. Mr. Murphy’s gift had been left largely untouched for 15 years during a time marked by transition, most notably the establishment of a praise band service as a primary part of the church’s identity. During this time, the congregation was aware that organ repairs were needed—there was damage from water leaks and falling plaster, failing leather, and collapsed bass pipes—but waited for direction from me. I wanted to improve the sound of the organ, not just fix broken items, so I advised that we hold tight while we figured out the best course of action.

As background, in 1969 the church remodeled its chancel area to its current configuration and purchased a new Möller organ, Opus 10419. This organ had 26 ranks of pipes distributed over three manuals and pedal. Very much a product of its time, the organ was small scaled by today’s standards, with an abundance of upperwork. (The only 8 Principal, located on the Great, was particularly thin, with 2/9 mouth widths.) The organ underwent many alterations over its life, presumably to make it more flexible for worship. Two sets of celestes were added, along with three color reeds. The Great was re-scaled, which ultimately gave the chorus a flutey character. The most recent modification was the replacement of the three-manual console with a refurbished four-manual console and solid-state control system. Though taken individually, these alterations were arguably successful and well received by the congregation; yet I found the overall sound of the organ to be hollow and anemic, lacking vibrant, eight-foot tone. There were parts of the organ I did like, however—the Swell reeds and the effective swell boxes, in particular.

In 2016, we were finally ready to act! We put together a collaboration to repair the pipe chambers, design and implement an HVAC system to maintain a constant temperature in the chambers, replace aging leather, and expand and improve the sound of the organ. Because our funds were limited and we wanted to honor as much of the previous stewardship as possible, we kept the console, control system, chests, and much of the existing engineering. Swem Organ Company of Grand Rapids releathered all of the reservoirs, swell motors, and octave shifters locally.

We selected Reuter to fashion a new tonal scheme for the organ. This is my second project with Reuter. Interlochen Center for the Arts, where I am the organ instructor and assistant director of music, chose Reuter to build its concert instrument, Opus 2227, using as much of the existing Aeolian-Skinner organ as possible. This project was remarkably successful and gave me confidence to go to the well a second time for the CUMC project. I like Reuter because they are willing to take risks in reusing and reworking existing components, and they stand behind their promises. For example, the Trompette en Chamade, completely renovated with new tongues and shallots, playing on new chest action with increased wind pressure, is just one of the stops totally transformed at the Reuter shop. It is now a stately, heralding voice that truly crowns the whole ensemble. I was also eager to work with Bill Klimas again. I trust his ears and like his taste in voicing.

The results are absolutely stunning. I am thrilled, as is our congregation.

—Thomas Bara

Organist

 

Central United Methodist Church

Traverse City, Michigan

4 manuals, 42 ranks (2017)

GREAT

16 Geigen (Sw) (1–12 Sw Rohrflute)

16 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Diapason* 61 pipes

8 Harmonic Flute* 61 pipes

8 Bourdon** 61 pipes

4 Octave* 61 pipes

4 Spillflute* 61 pipes

2 Fifteenth* 61 pipes

IV Fourniture* 244 pipes

8 Tromba (Ch)

Chimes (21 tubes)

Tremolo

SWELL

16 Rohrflute* (1–24 wood) 61 pipes

8 Geigen* 61 pipes

8 Rohrflute (ext 16′)* 12 pipes

8 Viole 61 pipes

8 Viole Celeste (TC) 49 pipes

8 Salicional 61 pipes

8 Voix Celeste (TC) 49 pipes

4 Geigen Octave (ext 8) 12 pipes

4 Waldflute* 61 pipes

223 Nazard* 61 pipes

2 Piccolo 61 pipes

135 Tierce* (TC) 49 pipes

III Plein Jeu* 183 pipes

16 Bombarde 61 pipes

8 Trompette (ext 16) 12 pipes

8 Oboe 61 pipes

4 Clarion (ext 16) 12 pipes

Tremolo

CHOIR

8 Principal** 61 pipes

8 Gedeckt 61 pipes

8 Gemshorn Celeste II 110 pipes

4 Octave* 61 pipes

4 Koppel Flute (ext Gedeckt) 12 pipes

2 Super Octave 61 pipes

113 Larigot 61 pipes

II Sesquialtera** 122 pipes

16 English Horn 73 pipes

8 Corno di Bassetto 61 pipes

8 Tromba* 61 pipes

16 Trumpet en Chamade (Solo)

8 Trumpet en Chamade (Solo)

Tremolo (flues)

SOLO

16 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Geigen (Sw)

8 Harmonic Flute (Gt)

8 Rohrflute (Sw)

16 Trombone (Ch)

8 Tromba (Ch)

8 Corno di Bassetto (Ch)

8 English Horn (Ch)

16 Trumpet en Chamade (TC)

8 Trumpet en Chamade 61 pipes

Tremolo (Choir reeds)

CELESTIAL 

Swell stops designated “Celestial” include:

8 Salicional

8 Voix Celeste

8 Viole

8 Viole Celeste

223 Nazard

135 Tierce

Zimbelstern (5 bells)

Swell Celestial Off

Celestial on Choir

Celestial on Great

PEDAL

32 Bourdon (ext Sw 16 Rohrflute, 

    1–12 electronic)

16 Contrabass 32 pipes

16 Subbass* (ext 8 Subbass, 

    1–12 electronic)

16 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Principal (ext Contrabass) 12 pipes

8 Subbass** 32 pipes

8 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Open Flute (Gt)

4 Choral Bass (ext Contrabass) 12 pipes

4 Subbass (ext 8′) 12 pipes

II Mixture  64 pipes

16 Trombone (ext Ch Tromba) 12 pipes

16 Bombarde (Sw)

16 English Horn (Ch)

8 Tromba (Gt)

8 Trompette (Sw)

4 Clarion (Sw)

4 English Horn (Ch)

8 Trumpet en Chamade (So)

 

*New pipework

**Repurposed pipework

 

St. John’s United Church of Christ

Lansdale, Pennsylvania

St. John’s United Church of Christ was founded in 1876, and the church’s current spacious Norman Gothic sanctuary was built in 1952. The sanctuary’s first pipe organ was installed in 1977 by the Fritzsche Organ Company. Because the congregation desired an economical initial purchase price, they obtained a used Aeolian-Skinner console from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Central Park West in New York City. Thirty-three ranks of Skinner, Aeolian-Skinner, and new Stinkens pipes were assembled with used chests in the existing pipe chamber to create an organ that was functional for worship. The warm acoustic of the 500-seat worship space gave the organ a satisfyingly sweet and mellow sound.

When I began my tenure as St. John’s United Church of Christ’s minister of music in 1987, it was clear that music had long been a vital part of the worship life of the congregation. Since that time, the music ministry has expanded in its diversity, with the organ always at the core of its leadership. St. John’s Artist Series included numerous performances by guest organists until 2010 when the console’s gradual deterioration limited the flexibility of the organ for performing organ repertoire.

The limitations of the console were the initial reasons for considering a renovation project. While a new state-of-the-art console would solve many issues, the need to address tonal and design issues became an equally important aspect of the project. In 2011, the church’s organ committee, chaired by Steven Hendricks, began serious conversations with four organ companies. Bill Klimas, artistic director of the Reuter Organ Company, dialogued with us in detail about his clear vision for the organ’s future, agreeing to incorporate the vast majority of existing pipes, revoiced, along with several new ranks of pipes in a totally redesigned pipe chamber. Reuter proposed a tonal concept that would appropriately fill the room and complement its beautiful architecture and acoustics. The design included a new tone opening for the pipe chamber with grillework custom made to match the existing tone openings.

Once the contract with Reuter was signed, things happened very quickly. Within two months the entire organ was removed and on its way to the Reuter shop in Lawrence, Kansas. One of Reuter’s design engineers, John Deahl, carefully worked out a detailed plan for the arrangement of the pipes in the chamber, maximizing egress of sound from the new tone opening along with the existing openings. Three and a half months after its removal, the newly renovated organ arrived at St. John’s Church. Several weeks later, the organ was voiced and tuned, ready for its debut!

Musicians and non-musicians alike have been excited about the new sounds of the organ. Most noticeable is the fuller base of support for congregational singing. The new tone opening greatly benefits the choir’s ability to hear the organ for accompaniment of anthems. The new state-of-the-art moveable console provides the opportunity to host organ concerts once again, beginning with the dedication concert in November played by Nathan Laube. Generations to come will enjoy the music provided by this very successful organ installation.

—David L. Furniss

Minister of Music

 

St. John’s United Church of Christ

Lansdale, Pennsylvania

3 manuals, 40 ranks (2017)

GREAT

16 Geigen (Sw) (1–12 Sw Rohrflute)

8 Principal* 61 pipes

8 Harmonic Flute* 49 pipes

    (1–12 Choir Open Flute)

8 Bourdon 61 pipes

4 Octave* 61 pipes

4 Koppelflute** 61 pipes

2 Super Octave* 61 pipes

IV Fourniture* 244 pipes

16 Oboe (Sw)

8 Tromba*** 61 pipes

    (1–32 existing, 33–61 new)

Chimes (21 tubes)

Tower Chimes (amplified in tower)

Tremolo 

SWELL

16 Rohrflute*** 61 pipes

    (1–24 existing, 25–73 new)

8 Geigen* 61 pipes

8 Viole 61 pipes

8 Viole Celeste 61 pipes

8 Rohrflute (ext 16′) 12 pipes

4 Geigen Octave* 61 pipes

4 Hohlflute*** 61 pipes

    (1–20 existing, 21–61 new)

223 Nazard** 61 pipes

2 Blockflute** 61 pipes

135 Tierce** 61 pipes

III–IV Plein Jeu**  231 pipes

16 Oboe (ext 8′)*** 12 pipes

8 Trumpet 61 pipes

8 Oboe 61 pipes

Tremolo

CHOIR

8 Prestant** 61 pipes

8 Open Flute** 61 pipes

8 Gedeckt** 61 pipes

8 Erzahler 61 pipes

8 Erzahler Celeste (TC) 49 pipes

4 Principal** 61 pipes

4 Mystical Flute** 61 pipes

4 Open Flute (ext 8′) 12 pipes

2 Doublette** 61 pipes

113 Quinte** 61 pipes

8 Fagotto* 61 pipes

8 Krummhorn 61 pipes

Tremolo 

PEDAL

32 Resultant

16 Open Wood 32 pipes

16 Subbass 32 pipes

16 Geigen (Gt)

16 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Octave* 32 pipes

8 Subbass (ext 16′) 12 pipes

8 Geigen (Sw)

8 Rohrflute (Sw)

8 Open Flute (Ch)

4 Super Octave (ext 8′) 12 pipes

4 Subbass (ext 16′) 12 pipes

4 Open Flute (Ch)

16 Trombone 32 pipes

    (1–12 existing, 13–32 Gt Tromba) 

16 Oboe (Sw)

8 Tromba (Gt)

8 Oboe (Sw)

4 Oboe (Sw)

4 Krummhorn (Ch)

*New pipework

**Repurposed pipework

***Combination of both

 

Reuter Organ Company website: 

www.reuterorgan.com

Trinity Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas, website: www.trinitydt.org

Central United Methodist Church, Traverse City, Michigan, website: 

www.tccentralumc.org

St. John’s United Church of Christ, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, website:

http://st-johns-ucc.org

Leave A Comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt><dd><i>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Email Subscriptions