Cover Feature

November 1, 2017

Mander Organs, 

London, England

Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York, New York

25th anniversary of the organ


From the Director of Music 


Much has been written about the propensity of music to expand the mind and heart beyond the world of active consciousness into a realm that renders language impotent. We musicians have an unshakeable faith in the power of the music we make—given the right frame of mind on the part of performer and listener, our own thorough preparation, and the adequacy of the instrument at hand—to break open facets of mystery heretofore undisclosed. The very sound of the instruments we play can get under our skin and show us new ways of being, giving us previously undiscovered avenues for experiencing the world and each other.

We have all trained our minds and our techniques. We are aware of our limitations and try to live within them while wisely and carefully pushing back, improving our craft bit by bit. What we don’t always have control over is, as I said above, the “adequacy of the instrument at hand.” At some point, all organists have to make the best of impossible instruments and acoustics, creating beauty from the most improbable circumstances. At the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City—a city full of landmark pipe organs—we are fortunate enough to experience the opposite.

The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola was founded in 1851 and entrusted to the Jesuits in 1866. Our present edifice, built in 1898 at the corner of Park Avenue and 84th Street, housed a magnificent 3-manual Hook & Hastings pipe organ of 51 registers, which was expanded in 1913 to 80 stops. At some point prior to 1950, a subsequent rebuild yielded an instrument of 3 manuals and 44 stops. The organ eventually fell into disrepair and was replaced by a hybrid pipe/electronic instrument in 1975, which, by the late 1980s, was also in need of replacement. Also requiring attention was the deteriorating physical plant of the church, housing a rather small local congregation, which itself was running annual budget deficits.

In 1986, the Reverend Walter F. Modrys, S.J., became pastor of the church. Recognizing the long-standing importance of music to the parish, he hired Kent Tritle, a young and dynamic organist and choral conductor, to serve as the church’s music director. But given the significant financial needs of the parish at the time, it was difficult to justify spending enormous sums of money on a pipe organ. In 1990, an anonymous donor stepped forward with a gift of $750,000, insisting that it be used to purchase the finest new organ money could buy. A second donor supplemented with a gift of $250,000, which the parish matched to renovate the organ loft and install the necessary additional electrical components and lighting. An organ committee was assembled and Mr. Tritle spent the next several months visiting organbuilders both in the United States and Europe. It became clear that the London firm N. P. Mander should build the new organ, and that it would be the largest mechanical action organ ever built in the New York metropolitan area.

Designed and constructed at the Mander workshops in England during 1991–1992, the first shipment of materials arrived at the church in November 1992. Over the next several months, a large contingent of craftsmen and technicians from Mander assembled the 4-manual, 68-rank, 91-stop, 5,000-pipe, 30-ton, 45-foot-high instrument. The organ’s debut recital on April 27, 1993, with David Higgs was a historic event, packing nearly 1,800 people into a church that sat 1,200 at Easter. At the time, historian Barbara Owen noted to the New York Times that it should become an organ of choice for concerts and recordings. Indeed it has.

The organ’s discography includes recordings by ensembles such as the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Westminster Choir, as well as renowned organists John Scott, David Liddle, Anthony Newman, Andrew Shenton, Harry Huff, David Enlow, long-time associate organist (now organist emerita) Nancianne Parrella, and two solo discs by Mr. Tritle. Through solo recitals by John Scott, Marie-Claire Alain, David Hurd, Simon Preston, Joan Lippincott, David Hill, Anthony Newman, Dame Gilliam Weir, Stephen Tharp, Philippe Lefebvre, Gerre Hancock, Thomas Murray, Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, John Grew, Martin Baker, David Briggs, Ken Cowan, Paul Jacobs, Christopher Houlihan, and staff organists Renée Anne Louprette, Andrew Henderson, Robert McDermitt, Mrs. Parrella, and Mr. Tritle, the warmth, brilliance, and majesty of the Mander organ have thrilled and delighted audiences. No stranger to St. Ignatius, the great Olivier Latry personally chose this organ and church as the American site for his acclaimed millennial cycle of Messiaen’s complete works for organ.

In addition to recitals, the organ is an invaluable partner to the incomparable Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in our Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series. Over the years, Lincoln Center has presented many artists in concert, including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Ton Koopman, the Hilliard Ensemble, the London Symphony Chorus, the Kirov Opera Chorus, Les Arts Florissants, the late John Tavener, and a host of others. This past spring, the renowned Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave us a beautifully transcendent evening of works by Arvo Pärt, and I was fortunate enough to accompany them at the organ, as well as play a solo work by the venerable Mr. Pärt. A few months later, Carnegie Hall presented The Tallis Scholars at St. Ignatius with Daniel Hyde, organist and director of music at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, at the organ. 

In addition to its well-documented presence on New York’s concert scene, the Mander organ is a spiritual partner to the 4,400 families of our parish. At over 400 liturgies per year, this organ enriches and enlarges the prayers of our community, rejoices with brides and grooms, gives comfort to grieving families, and uplifts the intercessions of our children from the St. Ignatius Loyola grammar school and our Interparish Religious Education Program, all at the hands of our esteemed principal organist, Daniel Beckwith. It also serves as accompanist for three of our four adult choirs and our three children’s choirs.

For me personally, the Mander has been an endless wellspring of inspiration. The tonal palette, encompassing the warmth of the diapasons, the gentle silver crowning of the mixtures, the breadth and lushness of the strings, the varied shadings of the reeds—from dark richness to brilliant fire—and the liquid flutes, sparks my imagination as few instruments can. Every style of repertoire from every school of organbuilding and composition excels here with panache.

Now in its 25th year, the Mander has proven itself as a more-than-worthy investment of parish resources, reaching vast audiences and touching the lives of tens of thousands. The 29th season of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space opened on October 6 with an astonishing concert by the Philippine Madrigal Singers and a brilliant solo organ recital on October 22 by former St. Ignatius music director, now director of cathedral music at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Kent Tritle. The organ remains at center stage as we celebrate its silver anniversary throughout the 2017–2018 season.

It is my hope that if you haven’t experienced the ravishing beauty of this landmark instrument, you will join us at some point, either in liturgy or concert. A feast for the ear and eye alike, it will stir your heart and mind. You will be changed.

—K. Scott Warren

Director of Music Ministries, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola

Artistic Director, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space

Organist/Choirmaster, Congregation Emanu-El


From the Builder

It is not every day that an organbuilder is asked to build an instrument of the size and significance of that at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York. As the specification indicates, the organ draws on the French Romantic era for inspiration. But it also goes much further in its development to provide an instrument of versatility and integrity matching both the musical demands of the church’s liturgy and the wide-ranging requirements of St. Ignatius Loyola’s extensive Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series. However, the organ at St. Ignatius Loyola is not a slavish copy of a mid-nineteenth century French organ, let alone a copy of a Cavaillé-Coll. The style was used as a starting point rather than an end in itself.

The mid-nineteenth century French organ has an obvious relationship to the liturgy of a Jesuit church with an active music program. But to have restricted the style to that would have placed too many limitations on the general versatility of the organ. Attempts have been made to mitigate the limitations inevitably inherent in copying a particular style by the introduction of elements from different and often disparate schools. The consequential lack of blend has sometimes given rise to what is in essence a number of smaller organs masquerading as a large one.

How then to satisfy the requirements of a modern instrument to perform musically, if not strictly authentically, a large part of the rich repertoire for the organ? How could the request to provide an instrument with a French romantic flavor be acceded to without excluding the repertoire of the earlier French eras, not to mention the non-French literature? How could it be made sufficiently true to the chosen genre to afford players in the New York area a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the music of Franck, Duruflé, Messiaen, and later? How could we ensure that the liturgical requirements were satisfied first and foremost but still afford sufficient character to provide an exciting concert instrument?

The combination of the varied requirements led to much discussion during the initial planning stages, among Kent Tritle, at the time director of music ministries at St. Ignatius Loyola, the consultants, and ourselves. Our main objective was to ensure that the whole instrument had integrity and a feeling of oneness. For this reason, we decided that rather than attempting to incorporate different styles in the one organ, we would approach the problem from the other end and develop the core style sympathetically, while staying true to the core itself.

At an early stage in the planning, we visited a number of appropriate instruments of Cavaillé-Coll (being the obvious candidate for investigation of the French organ of the nineteenth century), intentionally spreading the selection over as wide a period of his work as possible. Our first discovery was that it is very difficult to define the Cavaillé-Coll organ at all. There are wide variations in style, from the almost Dutch classical at St. Omer (1855) to the high symphonic of Rouen (1890). Our perception of the Cavaillé-Coll organ is, perhaps, influenced too heavily by the Parisian instruments in general and that of St. Sulpice in particular.

However, the study of these instruments actually gave us the clue as to the best way forward. In particular, we were able to appreciate the way Cavaillé-Coll could base a new instrument around existing pipework and cases, yet still produce an exciting and interesting result with the integrity essential to any good instrument. It was especially instructive to see how he could achieve this and still create an organ that bore his own unmistakable stamp.

With this appreciation, we decided to base the new organ for St. Ignatius on the middle period of Cavaillé-Coll’s own work, developing it, while remaining true to our chosen starting point. For example, a Positif de Dos was included, but the pipework was scaled and voiced in the same style as the rest of the organ. Very few, if any new organs of the mid-nineteenth century in France had a Positif de Dos, as the Positif was usually incorporated within the main case. The Grand Récit was developed to provide the grand Swell Organ effect demanded of an instrument of the late twentieth century.

The important requirements of a Franck-style Récit, which could not have been realized in a large enclosed department, were satisfied by the Petit Récit on the fourth manual, also the home of some of the important Solo elements. The Pedal was developed to be as complete and independent as possible. Finally, some registers, which would have been foreign to a true mid-nineteenth century French organ, were incorporated, but these were always scaled and voiced in a style firmly in keeping with the rest of the instrument.

Without proper attention to the starting point, the result could well have turned out to be bland and of indeterminate character. However, while voicing the organ, we continually ensured we were staying faithful to our model. As we progressed with the voicing, we had pieces of the French repertoire played on the organ to ensure we were neither straying too far away from our inspiration nor missing important details in our attempt to develop the overall style.

The result, we hope, is an organ with a voice of its own, perhaps an English organ speaking with a strong French accent. Our aim was an instrument capable of producing a musical result, accepting that the gain in character might to some degree limit true authenticity. Above all, however, we wanted to create an instrument that is unashamedly of our own era, one which can stand proudly as a representation of late twentieth-century craftsmanship.

No organ is the product of one person, and this one drew on some people who really need to be acknowledged as significant contributors to the project. The case design was conceived by Diddier Grassin, now president of the Noack Organ Company. He also advised us and arranged our study tour in France. The late Stephen Bicknell did the technical design as well as the realization of Didier’s design. The Mander team really pulled together to make this challenging dream a reality, not least Michael Blighton, the voicer. Fr. Walter Modrys, pastor at the time, gave unstinting support and encouragement to us all. But, above all, it was Kent Tritle’s vision, encouragement, trust, advice, and great friendship that bound us all together and made his dream possible.

—John Pike Mander


Concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of the N. P. Mander organ, 2017–2018 season


Maurice Duruflé, Requiem and other works

Thursday, November 2, 2017, 8 p.m.

Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola

K. Scott Warren, conductor

David Enlow, organ 

Messe “Cum jubilo”

Four Motets on Gregorian Themes

Our Father


Love’s Pure Light: Annual Christmas Concert

Sunday, December 10, 2017, 3 p.m.

Sunday, December 17, 2017, 3 p.m.

Choirs & Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola

Daniel Beckwith, organ

J. S. Bach, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Handel, “Hallelujah” from Messiah

Popular carols


N. P. Mander Organ Recital

Sunday, January 14, 2018, 3 p.m.

Simon Johnson


N. P. Mander Organ Recital

Sunday, February 18, 2018, 3 p.m.

Reneé Anne Louprette 


J. S. Bach: Visions of Eternity

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 8 p.m.

Choir & Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola

K. Scott Warren, conductor

Andrew Henderson, organ

Chorales, motets, and arias


N. P. Mander Organ Recital

Sunday, April 15, 2018, 3 p.m

David Higgs


Francis Poulenc, Gloria, Organ Concerto, and Mass in G Major

Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 8 p.m.

Choir & Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola

K. Scott Warren, conductor

Reneé Anne Louprette, organ


Photo credits: 

Joshua South Photography


Builder’s website:

Church website:


Concerts website:

Church of St. Ignatius Loyola

980 Park Avenue

New York, New York 10028


Phone: 212/288-3588


GRAND ORGUE (85 mm w.p.)

16 Montre 61 pipes

8 Montre 61 pipes

8 Flûte harmonique 61 pipes

8 Violoncelle 61 pipes

8 Bourdon 61 pipes

4 Prestant 61 pipes

4 Flûte à fuseau 61 pipes

223 Quinte 61 pipes

2 Doublette 61 pipes

135 Tierce 61 pipes

2 Fourniture V 305 pipes

23 Cymbale IV 244 pipes

8 Cornet V (from g0) 270 pipes

16 Bombarde 61 pipes

8 Trompette 64 pipes

4 Clairon 76 pipes




IVe Clav.–G.O.

POSITIF (75 mm w.p.)

8 Montre 61 pipes

8 Flûte à cheminée 61 pipes

4 Prestant 61 pipes

4 Flûte douce 61 pipes

223 Nazard 61 pipes

2 Doublette 61 pipes

2 Quarte de Nazard 61 pipes

135 Tierce 61 pipes

113 Larigot 61 pipes

113 Plein jeu V 305 pipes

8 Trompette 61 pipes

8 Cromorne 61 pipes


IVe Clav.–Positif


RÉCIT EXPRESSIF (85 mm w.p.)

16 Bourdon 61 pipes

8 Diapason 61 pipes

8 Salicional 61 pipes

8 Unda Maris 61 pipes

8 Cor de nuit 61 pipes

4 Octave 61 pipes

4 Flûte ouverte 61 pipes

2 Doublette 61 pipes

223 Cornet III 183 pipes

113 Plein jeu IV 244 pipes

16 Basson 61 pipes

8 Trompette harmonique 64 pipes

8 Clarinette 61 pipes

4 Clairon harmonique 76 pipes


IVe Clav.–Récit


(90 mm w.p.)

8 Flûte traversière 61 pipes

8 Viole de Gambe 61 pipes

8 Voix céleste 61 pipes

8 Bourdon 61 pipes

4 Flûte octaviante 61 pipes

2 Octavin 61 pipes

16 Cor anglais 61 pipes

8 Trompette 61 pipes

8 Basson-hautbois 61 pipes

8 Voix humaine 61 pipes


BOMBARDE (140 mm w.p.)

16 Bombarde 61 pipes

8 Trompette en chamade 64 pipes

4 Clairon en chamade 76 pipes

PEDALE (95 & 110 mm w.p.)

32 Soubasse (ext 16) 12 pipes

16 Montre 32 pipes

16 Contrebasse 32 pipes

16 Soubasse 32 pipes

8 Principal 32 pipes

8 Flûte bouchée 32 pipes

4 Octave 32 pipes

315 Mixture V 160 pipes

32 Contre Bombarde (ext 16

12 pipes

16 Bombarde 32 pipes

16 Basson 32 pipes

8 Trompette 32 pipes

4 Clairon 32 pipes




IVe Clav.–Pédale


Etoile (in memory of Bridie Callahan by The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation)




256 memory level capture action system. 

Keys of bone, sharps of ebony. 

Case of French oak. 

Interior supports of American oak. 

Stop jambs of bur walnut, maple inlay. 

Stops of rosewood.


All couplers are purely mechanical; there is no electric assist. 


5,196 pipes

Related Content

September 20, 2021
First United Methodist Church of Athens, Georgia, is home to the newest instrument by Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc., of Warrensburg, Missouri. The four-…
September 20, 2021
Muller Pipe Organ Company, Croton, Ohio Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Columbus, Ohio Muller Pipe Organ Company has installed a new two-manual,…
August 22, 2021
St. Simons Island is a coastal community with roots that include coastal Indian tribes, the Spanish occupation, pre-Revolutionary War America as part…