Cover Feature

August 31, 2018

Quimby Pipe Organs, 

Warrensburg, Missouri

Two organs in North Carolina

In 2017, Quimby Pipe Organs (QPO) completed the installation of two small-to-medium sized instruments in North Carolina. Both projects incorporated pipework or mechanics from the churches’ preceding instruments, as the work would not have been feasible in either case given all-new construction. However, both projects resulted in organs that function mechanically as if they are all new, and both have entirely new tonal identities that align with modern QPO practice. Accordingly, both have been given QPO opus numbers, and each is, in its own way, an exploration of what should constitute a modern-day American multum in parvo organ, where comparatively few ranks of pipes yield surprising results: instruments that are flexible, musical, and artistically satisfying. Each organ plays with the authority of a much larger instrument than its size would suggest.


Opus 73

All Saints Episcopal Church

Southern Shores, North Carolina

We were invited to visit All Saints Episcopal Church by Organist and Director of Music Steve Blackstock because we had previously worked with him to relocate an 1878 Marshall Brothers organ, which was electrified and rebuilt by Ernest M. Skinner in 1912 and is now situated in a new case on QPO electro-pneumatic slider windchests at Holy Redeemer-by-the-Sea in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Blackstock asked us to assess All Saints’ 1948 M. P. Möller organ, Opus 7721. Originally five unified ranks, the organ had grown to nine, enclosed in a freestanding case in the rear corner of the room. There were some pleasant sounds in the instrument—particularly the stopped wood flute—but the disposition of these voices at various pitches over two manuals and pedal was not entirely successful; there was a lack of flexible, contrasting ensembles.

Several options were investigated, including either the relocation of a mid-nineteenth-century Hook tracker or a mid-twentieth-century Austin. But the ideas that resonated most with Steve were those which Michael Quimby and I developed for the expansion and radical rebuilding of the existing Möller.  

The approach was straightforward: the existing enclosed mechanical chassis would become the Swell, and a new unenclosed Great division would be added on a new Quimby-Blackinton electro-pneumatic slider chest. The best of the existing pipework would be retained, and after careful restoration, rescaling, and revoicing, would find a place in the new tonal concept, though not always at the same pitches or divisions as before. One independent Pedal rank was added—a Pedal Octave that plays at 8 and 4.

Although the existing Möller unit windchests were retained in the new Swell, having been releathered recently, efforts were made to provide more of a “straight” ensemble in the Swell, with unification judiciously used for added color and flexibility, rather than to create ensemble.

Not one new pipe was constructed for the project. Rather, ranks were carefully selected from our extensive inventory of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American pipework for integration into the ensemble. The end result is not a patchwork of individual voices, as one might expect, but rather, a cohesive, flexible ensemble. This is not only due to the quality of the vintage pipework, but also to the unique facility of Michael Quimby to identify which ranks will work to achieve the intended result, and also to the ability of Head Voicer Eric Johnson and staff voicers Samantha Koch and Christopher Soer to carry out the work. Also essential is our fully functional pipe shop, where cleaning, restoration, modification, and repair can happen as required alongside construction of new pipes.

Several church members participated in passing pipes into the organ. One couple, key donors to the project, also assisted, and knowing that there were no new pipes in the organ, inquired as to the provenance of the pipes. In response, I told her that the pipe she had in her hand came from an organ formerly at a church in St. Louis, Missouri. She was stunned. She had attended there as a young lady, and it was, in fact, where she had met her husband, who was also helping to pass pipes. We quickly figured out that we were installing pipes that had played at the time that she would have heard the organ—a happy coincidence that added dramatically to the significance of the instrument for these two.

New casework was designed by QPO and constructed by members of the church to expand and complement the existing enclosure. The new casework is intentionally somewhat transparent, and the pipes of the Great division are visible at different times during the day when overhead light passes down from skylights overhead. The façade pipes are vintage zinc basses, here painted with pearlescent white bodies and rose gold mouths, which complement the open, light-filled character of the church. The existing console was rebuilt and placed on a moveable platform dolly.  

The existing 8 Trumpet was extensively revoiced and extended to play at 16 and 4. It is at once brilliant and foundational and forms a grand underpinning for the full ensemble. A pair of early-twentieth-century strings yield characteristic, lush string tone in the Swell, and the unison rank extends down to 16. The 16 Contra Viola is surprisingly versatile: in addition to making an effective double to the new Great Diapason chorus, it is soft enough to serve as a whisper bass (with the Swell box closed) under the 8 Dulciana, yet harmonically intense enough to combine with the 16 Gedeckt and synthesize a 16 Diapason.

The organ was completed in September 2017 and was dedicated on Sunday, October 1. On Sunday, October 15, Dorothy Papadakos accompanied the 1920 silent film, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Opus 74

Central United Methodist Church

Concord, North Carolina

Susan Renz Theodos, director of music at Central United Methodist Church in Concord, North Carolina, contacted us regarding a project for a possible new organ because of her previous experience playing our Opus 34, of three manuals and thirty-three ranks at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Litchfield, Connecticut (1992). Developed in tandem with then organist Thomas Brown, Opus 34 is a QPO multum in parvo instrument dating from before our work had shifted into the mature Quimby tonal style.  

In working together with Susan after her visit to a more recent project at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia (Opus 66, 2010), we developed a proposal for an equally effective three-manual organ, slightly expanded, which would have the same versatility and nuance as Opus 34, but expressed according to a more Romantic approach: with heroically scaled chorus work and characteristic, harmonically developed individual voices that lock together into seamless, coherent ensembles.

The resulting instrument makes use of select existing pipework from the church’s former 1973 Casavant (Opus 3179), new pipework constructed by Quimby, and select vintage ranks from QPO inventory. New electro-pneumatic slider windchests were constructed for all straight manual ranks and electro-pneumatic unit ranks for all pedal and extended ranks. The winding system and interior structure of the organ are all new. In order to help make the project more cost-effective, we refurbished and rebuilt a three-manual console, constructed by another builder in 2000, for an organ that is now redundant. With new mahogany interior, console lid, and bench top, the refinished console is a splendid match for the church’s neo-Classical interior.

The use of existing Casavant pipework in combination with our own inventory was attractive to the church, not only because it was fiscally responsible, but because they understood it to be environmentally responsible when compared with new construction, and therefore, good stewardship in several senses. The transformation to the carefully selected principals, flutes, strings, and mutations is stunning; none of the reused ranks bears any resemblance to what existed before. The previous instrument was weak in the unison range, and top-heavy with piercing upperwork. Individual foundation voices were bland and blended poorly, with little support for choral accompaniment or even congregational song. The transformed ranks, having been recomposed, rescaled, and radically revoiced, now form colorful, expressive Diapason ensembles at a wide range of dynamic levels.  

Our approach to rescaling and revoicing old ranks of pipes that came from the church’s previous organ is conceptually similar to the practice of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in nineteenth-century France. His organs at Notre Dame de Paris and Saint-Sulpice incorporate significant percentages of eighteenth-century Clicquot pipework, but those old ranks of pipes were successfully transformed to contribute to a new tonal aesthetic by Cavaillé-Coll.  

New and vintage reeds were provided, custom voiced in-house; these range from the throaty Cromorne in the Solo-Choir, to the lyrical Oboe and fiery Trumpet in the Swell, to the brilliant Harmonic Trumpet in the Solo-Choir, and finally, the dominating, spectacular Tuba in the Great. The Harmonic Trumpet, available at 16, 8, and 4 on manuals and pedal, can serve in the Great as chorus reeds with the box closed, as a soft or loud 16 reed in the Pedal, and with the box open as an exciting climax to full organ at all three pitches. The Tuba is intended strictly for solo use and is voiced on 12 inches wind pressure so that individual notes can be heard over full organ.

Also of note are the variety of 8 and 4 flutes, several of which are vintage, and which contrast and combine with each other effectively. The Swell strings are revoiced Casavant pipework and contrast a more broadly voiced Viola Pomposa and Celeste in the Solo-Choir.  Together with the Swell Spitzflute and Celeste, a wide range of undulants is provided, which can be combined in surprising ways.

The organ was completed in November 2017 and was dedicated by Bradley Hunter Welch on Sunday morning, April 15, 2018, with a recital following the same afternoon.

—T. Daniel Hancock, A.I.A., President

Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc.


Quimby Pipe Organs, Opus 73

GREAT (unenclosed)

16 Contra Viola (Swell)

8 Open Diapason, 49 pipes, 1–12 common with Pedal 8 Octave

8 Hohl Flute, 55 pipes, 1–6 common with Swell 8 Gedeckt

8 Gedeckt (Swell)

8 Viola (Swell)

8 Dulciana, 61 pipes

4 Octave, 61 pipes

4 Spitzflute (Swell), 1–12 Swell 8' Gedeckt; 13–61 2 Flageolet

2 Fifteenth, 61 pipes

113 Mixture III, 183 pipes

16 Contra Trumpet (Swell)

8 Trumpet (Swell)

8 Oboe (Swell)


SWELL (enclosed)

16 Gedeckt, 97 pipes

8 Gedeckt (ext)

8 Viola, 85 pipes

8 Voix Celeste, TC, 49 pipes

4 Principal, 73 pipes

4 Stopped Flute (ext)

4 Viola (ext)

223 Nazard, 49 pipes, 1–12 common with Swell 8 Gedeckt

2 Octave (ext)

2 Flageolet, 61 pipes

135 Tierce, TC, 37 pipes, top octave repeats

16 Contra Oboe, TC, 61 pipes

8 Trumpet, 85 pipes

8 Oboe (ext)

4 Clarion (ext)



32 Resultant (fr 16Bourdon)

16 Bourdon (Swell) 

16 Contra Viola (ext Swell 8 Viola) 

8 Octave, 44 pipes, 1–17 in façade

8 Gedeckt (Swell) 

8 Viola (Swell)

4 Super Octave (ext)

16 Trombone (Swell)

8 Trumpet (Swell) 

8 Oboe (Swell)

4 Clarion (Swell) 

4 Oboe Clarion (Swell)


Two manuals, 18 ranks, 1,111 pipes

Builder’s website:

Church website:


Quimby Pipe Organs, Opus 74

GREAT (unenclosed)

16 Bourdon (Pedal)

8 Open Diapason, 49 pipes, 1–12  common with Pedal 16 Open Diapason

8 Hohl Flute, 49 pipes, 1–12 common with Pedal 16 Bourdon

8 Bourdon (Pedal)

8 Spitzflute (Swell)

8 Spitzflute Celeste (Swell)

4 Octave, 61 pipes

4 Stopped Flute, 61 pipes

2 Fifteenth, 61 pipes

113 Mixture IV, 244 pipes

16 Harmonic Trumpet (Solo-Choir)

16 Contra Oboe (Swell)

8 Harmonic Trumpet (Solo-Choir)

8 Trumpet (Swell)

8 Oboe (Swell)

8 Cromorne (Solo-Choir)

4 Harmonic Clarion (Solo-Choir)

8 Tuba, 61 pipes

Chimes, 25 tubes

SWELL (enclosed)

16 Spitzflute, 73 pipes

8 Open Diapason, 61 pipes 

8 Stopped Diapason, 61 pipes

8 Gamba, 61 pipes

8 Voix Celeste, TC, 49 pipes

8 Spitzflute (ext)

8 Spitzflute Celeste, TC, 49 pipes

4 Octave, 61 pipes

4 Harmonic Flute, 61 pipes

2 Fifteenth, 61 pipes, double-draws with Mixture

2 Mixture IV, 183 pipes

16 Contra Oboe, 73 pipes

8 Trumpet, 73 pipes

8 Oboe (ext)

4 Clarion (ext)


8 Tuba (Great)

SOLO-CHOIR (enclosed)

8 Solo Diapason (Pedal) 

8 Doppel Flute, 49 pipes, 1–12 common with Pedal 16 Bourdon

8 Chimney Flute, 61 pipes 

8 Viola, 61 pipes

8 Viola Celeste, TC, 49 pipes

4 Principal, 61 pipes

4 Night Horn, 61 pipes 

223 Nazard, 61 pipes 

2 Octave, 61 pipes

2 Spire Flute, 61 pipes

135 Tierce, 61 pipes 

16 Harmonic Trumpet, 85 pipes

8 Harmonic Trumpet (ext)

8 Cromorne, 61 pipes

8 Oboe (Swell)

4 Harmonic Clarion (ext)


8 Tuba (Great)


16 Open Diapason, 73 pipes

16 Bourdon, 73 pipes

16 Spitzflute (Swell)

8 Octave (ext)

8 Bourdon (ext)

4 Fifteenth (ext) 

4 Flute (ext) 

32 Contra Trombone (ext), 1–12 derived

32 Harmonics (derived)

16 Trombone (Solo-Choir)

16 Contra Oboe (Swell)

8 Harmonic Trumpet (Solo-Choir)

8 Oboe (Swell)

4 Harmonic Clarion (Solo-Choir) 

4 Cromorne (Solo-Choir)

8 Tuba (Great)


Three manuals, 38 ranks, 2,339 pipes

Church website:


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