Cover Feature

February 28, 2018

Kegg Pipe Organ Builders, Hartville, Ohio

Christ the King Chapel, 

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado

Every new pipe organ project, large or small, has a unique sense of importance. Rarely are we afforded the opportunity to build an instrument that will inspire generations of clergy to high ideals. Our new organ at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary is a true honor for an organbuilder.

Each of our pipe organs is custom designed for the space it occupies and the musical task it must perform. During the design process, the organ evolves. Sometimes the stop list has additions made as funds become available, or unknown building impediments are discovered that require us to adjust. This new organ of course went through this process, but through it all, the goal we shared with associate professor of sacred music, Dr. Mark Lawlor, did not. The goal was to build an instrument suited primarily to the multiple daily Masses of the seminarians.

The failing electronic organ from 20 years ago had “replaced” the original 1931 Kilgen pipe organ. Heavily damaged first by modifications to the stop list with foreign pipes installed by lesser hands, then with loud speakers among and largely on the pipes, the original pipe organ was assumed destroyed. When Kegg sales representative Dwayne Short first crawled into the crowded, dark, and dirty space, he made his way into the furthest reaches where few had ventured in years, to discover that many of the Kilgen Swell stops had survived in reasonable condition. These, along with one Pedal stop and an orphan Great Clarinet, gave us some original pipes to consider retaining in the new organ.

Christ the King Chapel is a handsome room built in 1931. Beautiful to look at with masonry walls and terrazzo floors, it is a child of its time, apparent when one looks up. The coffered ceiling panels are beautifully painted acoustic tile, rendering only about one second of reverberation when the room is empty. The organ is at the rear of the room, in a shallow chamber over the main door. The robust all-male congregation is mostly at the front of the nave and in the crossing. All these elements dictate a rich, strong, and dark organ to meet the voices at their pitch and location. There is an Antiphonal division that is prepared in the console. Until it is installed, the main organ will have to fill the room from the rear with the singers up front.

Dr. Lawlor specifically requested that all manual divisions be enclosed to afford him and future musicians maximum musical flexibility. Most organists prefer a three-manual organ to two, which we frequently offer in organs of this size. The new organ is 19 stops and 25 ranks dispersed over three manuals and pedal. The only unenclosed stops are the Pedal 16Principal, from which the façade pipes are drawn, and the horizontal Pontifical Trumpet, in polished brass with flared bells. This last stop was also a specific request. Because the room is not excessively large, these pipes are placed as high as possible. The large scale, tapered shallots and 7-inch wind pressure give these pipes a round, Tuba-like quality that is commanding and attractive.

The Great/Choir and Swell are enclosed in separate expression boxes. The stop list is not unusual, but the execution of the Principal choruses is. Both choruses have Mixtures based at 2. This allows them to couple to the Pedal without a noticeable pitch gap in the bottom octave sometimes heard with 113 Mixtures. The breaks of these two Mixtures are different. The Swell Mixture breaks before the Great, bringing in the 223 pitch early. This gives the Swell Mixture a rich texture, particularly helpful in choral work. Emphasis in finishing is on unison and octave pitches when present. The first break in the Great Mixture is at C#26 and from C#14 is one pitch higher than the Swell, making it relatively normal. For the Great Mixture, the upper pitches are given more prominence during finishing. The two choruses complement and contrast well in this intimate space, without excessive brightness.

Many of the flutes and strings were retained from the original Kilgen organ. With some attention in the voicing room, these work well within the Kegg tonal family. Having heard other examples of our work, there was a keen desire by Dr. Lawlor for a new Kegg Harmonic Flute. To make this happen within the budget and space available, we used an existing wood Kilgen 8 Concert Flute for notes 1–32. At note 33, this stop changes to new Kegg harmonic pipes. The stop increases in volume dramatically as it ascends the scale. Available at 8 and 4 on both the Great and Choir manuals, the 8 stop is nicely textured and mezzo-forte. The treble of the 4 morphs into a soaring forte voice, made even more alluring by the tremulant.

With the exception of the Clarinet, all reeds are new Kegg stops and typical of our work. The Trumpet has a bright treble and a darker, larger bass extending into the Pedal at 16. The Oboe is capped and modeled after a Skinner Flügelhorn. The lovely Kilgen Clarinet fits nicely into the Kegg design.

The Pedal has the foundation needed for the organ. The 16 Principal unit of 56 pipes provides stops at 16, 8, and 4. This is the only flue stop that is not under expression. It grows in volume as you ascend the scale and does so more than its manual counterparts. Because of this, it is easy to have the Pedal be independent and prominent when needed for polyphonic music. This stop joins the Great Principal and Octave, all playing at 8 pitch, to make the 8 Solo Diapason III, a Kegg exclusive. With three 8 diapasons at one time, it is similar in effect to a First Open for both solo and chorus work where a firm 8 line is required.

The console provides all the features expected in a first-class instrument today including unlimited combination memory, multiple Next/Previous pistons, bone and rosewood keys and, of course, the Kegg signature pencil drawer and cup holder. 

The original 1931 organ was covered by a gray painted wood and cloth grill. The new organ façade design was inspired by the building age and funds, but mostly by the significant stone door that dominates the rear wall. This is not a formal case, but it is more than a simple fence row. The stone door is massive and will always be visually dominating, so it is natural to acknowledge it and build from it. The center façade section pipe toes sit atop the lintel with the tops dipping down to mirror the brick arch above, making space for the Pontifical Trumpet to seemingly float. The center section sits 5 inches behind the side bass sections, giving more depth to the visual effect. Viewing the façade from any angle other than head-on, it becomes sculptural.  

This was an exceptionally exciting and enjoyable project for us. The enthusiasm, interest, and complete cooperation from the seminarians and staff were a daily spiritual boost for the entire Kegg team. This organ was installed in nine days, ready to be voiced, due largely to the excellent working conditions. Many thanks to James Cardinal Stafford, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Dr. Mark Lawlor, and all our new friends at St. John Vianney.

—Charles Kegg

President and Artistic Director


The Kegg team:

Philip Brown

Michael Carden

Cameron Couch

Joyce Harper

Charles Kegg  

Philip Laakso 

Bruce Schutrum

Ben Schreckengost

Dwayne Short


GREAT (manual II, enclosed)

8 Solo Diapason III (fr Gt 8, 4, Ped 8)

8 Principal (61 pipes)

8 Concert Flute (1–32 existing, 33–73 

    new pipes)

8 Dulciana (61 existing pipes)

8 Unda Maris (TC, 49 pipes)

4 Octave (73 pipes)

4 Harmonic Flute (ext 8)

2 Fifteenth (ext 4 Octave)

IV Mixture (2′, 244 pipes)

8 Clarinet (61 existing pipes)


8 Trumpet (Sw)

8 Pontifical Trumpet (TC, 39 pipes, 

    C13–D51, polished brass, flared 

    bells, high pressure)

Chimes (console preparation)

Great 16

Great Unison Off

Great 4

8 stops, 11 ranks, 661 pipes

SWELL (manual III, enclosed)

16 Gedeckt (73 existing pipes)

8 Diapason (73 existing pipes)

8 Gedeckt (ext 8)

8 Salicional (61 existing pipes)

8 Voix Céleste (TC, 49 existing pipes)

4 Principal (ext 8)

4 Harmonic Flute (73 existing pipes)

223 Nazard (TC, 49 existing pipes)

2 Flute (ext 4)

135 Tierce (TC, console preparation)

113 Larigot (fr 223)

IV Mixture (244 pipes)

16 Trumpet (85 pipes)

8 Trumpet (ext 16)

8 Oboe (61 pipes)

4 Clarion (ext 16)


Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell 4

9 stops, 12 ranks, 768 pipes

CHOIR (manual I, enclosed with Great)

8 Concert Flute (Gt)

8 Dulciana (Gt)

8 Unda Maris (TC, Gt)

4 Principal (Gt 4)

4 Flute (fr Gt 8)

2 Octave (fr Gt 4 Octave)

8 Oboe (Sw)

8 Clarinet (Gt)


8 Pontifical Trumpet (Gt)

Choir 16

Choir Unison Off

Choir 4


32 Resultant (derived)

16 Principal (56 pipes)

16 Subbass (44 existing pipes)

16 Gedeckt (Sw)

8 Octave (ext 16)

8 Subbass (ext 16)

8 Gedeckt (Sw)

4 Choral Bass (ext 16)

32 Harmonics (derived)

16 Trumpet (Sw)

8 Trumpet (Sw)

4 Clarinet (Gt)

2 stops, 2 ranks, 100 pipes



Great to Pedal 8

Great to Pedal 4

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 4

Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Choir to Great 16

Choir to Great 8

Choir to Great 4

Swell to Choir 16

Swell to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 4

Great/Choir Transfer



14 General pistons (1–14 thumb, 1–10 toe)

6 Great pistons (thumb)

6 Swell pistons (thumb)

6 Choir pistons (thumb)

4 Pedal pistons (toe)

General Cancel (thumb)

Set (thumb)

Range (thumb)

Undo (thumb)

Clear (thumb)

Next (General piston sequencer, 4 thumb, 1 toe)

Previous (2 thumb)

30 memories per User, unlimited Users



Great to Pedal (thumb and toe)

Swell to Pedal (thumb)

Choir to Pedal (thumb)

Full Organ (thumb and toe)

32 Harmonics (toe)



Balanced Swell expression pedal

Balanced Great/Choir expression pedal

Balanced Crescendo pedal (2 memory adjustable, with numeric indicator)

Full Organ indicator


Concave and radiating pedal clavier

Adjustable bench



19 Stops, 25 Ranks, 1,529 Pipes


Organbuilder website:


Seminary website:

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