Cover Feature: Community of Jesus, Orleans, MA

October 21, 2021
Community of Jesus, Orleans, MA
Community of Jesus, Orleans, MA

If we all embrace a new vision, special guidance and support will surely come.

—Nelson Barden

On Monday, May 15, 1995, at 10:56 p.m., a fax from Nelson Barden (president, Nelson Barden & Associates, restorer-in-residence, Boston University) arrived in the music office. This was not just another fax. This document was in response to Nelson’s first visit to the Community of Jesus to meet with the superior, Mother Betty Pugsley, during which they discussed the vision, need, scope, and reason for an organ of incredible depth, proportion, beauty, and scale that would support the worship at the Community of Jesus and its world-renowned music outreach. Nelson realized instantly and exactly what she was saying, and both agreed that, “Above all other considerations, this organ must uncompromisingly spring from its spiritual and artistic vision until that vision becomes reality.”

To that end, the organ’s specification, geographic layout, and overall design were inspired and motivated by the ministry and mission of Gloriæ Dei Cantores (the resident professional choir at the Community of Jesus) as well as the community’s enthusiastic hymn singing. Gloriæ Dei Cantores performs repertoire of more than thirty nationalities, from Gregorian chant to music of the present day—a challenge for any organ to support, given the number of genres this includes!

Before meeting Nelson, we had committed to the restoration of an E. M. Skinner organ for the Church of the Transfiguration, knowing the innate beauty and flexibility of these instruments. In fact, we had already purchased, and had in storage, Skinner Organ Company Opus 762 from the Munn Avenue Presbyterian Church in East Orange, New Jersey. We soon realized, however, that this instrument would not be enough on its own and instead would need to become the basis for something far larger and with greater impact. In order to fulfill his vision and charge to unite the organ with the basilica form of the church, Nelson said, “Surround Sound:”

For this installation, I suggest rotating the traditional east-west organ placement 90 degrees to north-south and stretching the instrument completely down the nave in balconies over both side aisles. The divisions would start near the chancel (above the choir seating) with the Swell and Choir on opposite sides. These would be followed by an exposed Great and an Enclosed Great (including some Pedal) to broaden the tone and bring it down the nave . . . . Next would be matching north and south Solo divisions, followed by North and South Orchestral. These paired divisions would contain similar but distinct voices. These four matched divisions would form the “moving melody” section. . . . Near the west end would be the Bombarde/Antiphonal opposite the Echo. The shades of these divisions would not open directly toward the congregation but project the sound toward the back wall. This would modulate the heavy hitters in the Bombarde and allow the Echo to do a tonal “disappearing act.” The directional and surround effects achieved by computer control of stops and shades would lift the instrument beyond state-of-the-art into a unique realm. Moving melody could range freely over the building from left to right and front to back . . . . A single pianissimo chord from the chancel could grow into a mighty wave of sound, roll down the entire length of the nave, cascade into the Echo, and disappear.

Over the course of many years, there ensued hundreds of discussions about the numerous specifics needed to arrive at such a conclusion. (The specification alone has been through more than 150 revisions!) Only two weeks after the first fax came the next “prophetic” fax that would soon reveal the platform upon which we would collaborate for more than two and a half decades.

In addition to the primary precept of always maintaining the spiritual and artistic vision, two other significant points were developed from this second exchange:

1. Encourage apprentice-interested Community of Jesus members into the organ building field to act as good stewards in both the construction and future care of this instrument; and

2. Let the project take the time required for the organ to “teach and tell us” how it should grow and be transformed through varied experiences.

Upon mutually enthusiastic agreement, we reviewed the concepts set forth in the May 15 document in which Nelson said the organ should be:

1. World-class and unique

2. Ideally suited to your purposes

3. A tangible expression of Community of Jesus spiritual principles

4. Beautiful and musical, with instantly recognizable tone

5. Designed for posterity; built to last forever

6. Able to perform both nineteenth-century music authentically and eighteenth-century Bach convincingly

7. Capable of eliciting profound emotions

8. Designed for HDCD recordings

9. Focused on future developments, not current technology

10. A “trend setter.”

These discussion points quickly converted into:

1. Adopting the vision

2. Making the commitment to move forward

3. Incorporating the organ space into the church design

4. Refining the vision, shaping it to our precise needs

5. Defining the mechanical system of the organ

6. Developing a plan of action and a realistic budget

7. Locating a shop and storage space

8. Beginning to implement the plan of action

9. Training part-time workers and develop their expertise

10. Acquiring more component parts to restore

11. Organizing and commencing restoration work

12. Setting up a division and playing it for inspiration!

Thus, the organ restoration project began in earnest.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021, and we look back to see that Nelson’s original division layout, with some changes in nomenclature, has come true. The disposition of the divisions is as follows:

APSE

Choir Swell

North Gt (& Ped) South Gt (& Ped)

Solo (& Pedal) String (& Pedal)

Antiphonal/Processional Echo

WEST END

We were extremely fortunate to find instruments available for purchase that, together, created a “joyful musical genesis.” Below is a partial list of the Skinner organs whose components constitute this “new” instrument:

Opus 140, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio

Opus 195, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Opus 310, Plymouth Church, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Opus 473, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Opus 540, Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church, Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Opus 541, First Congregational Church, St. Petersburg, Florida

Opus 655, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, New York

Opus 656, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Opus 762, Munn Avenue Presbyterian Church, East Orange, New Jersey

Opus 855, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Opus 858, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida

Opus 934, Saint Joseph’s College, Adrian, Michigan

Opus 991, Broadway Tabernacle, New York, New York

Opus 1242, First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas

Nelson and the Community of Jesus have maintained an organ building apprenticeship program over these many years, having trained one of our members to journeyman status (over the course of twenty years), and four others in multi-year, work-training situations. During this time, the construction and installation truly did follow Nelson’s initial concept—division by division. This is what allowed the organ to “teach” us. Below are some other significant dates in the history of this organ:

June 2000: Dedication of the Church of the Transfiguration: North Great, Swell, and Tuba Mirabilis

June 2003: Great Artist series begins with American Guild of Organists Regions I and II convention, featuring Thomas Murray: Choir division

June 2005: Fifth anniversary of the Church of the Transfiguration: Antiphonal/Processional divisions

June 2010: Tenth anniversary of the Church of the Transfiguration: Echo division and arrival of the West End console for the concerts by Gerre and Judith Hancock and Thomas Murray

Summer 2018: 32′ Bombarde installed on South side

Summer 2019: removal of 1929 console and return of the rewired west end console serving as temporary main console

February 2020: Arrival of the final console

Our new console was designed, constructed, and installed by Richard Houghten and Joseph Zamberlan. From 2000 until 2020, we had used the original Skinner Organ Company console from Opus 762, which by 2020 the organ had long outgrown. The new console was designed to be as comfortable as a Skinner one, with everything clearly identified and within reach. Special features include shade expression thumb slides underneath the bottom three keyboards, an expression matrix so that any of the divisions can be assigned to a specific swell shoe (the entire organ is under expression), ivory keyboards that came from the Opus 762 console and are E. M. Skinner’s “tracker touch.” Some unusual couplers such as pedal to manual are included.

Perhaps the most moving realizations are the visionary outlooks of how this organ would affect people as they listened and experienced it in the setting of the Church of the Transfiguration. In concluding his initial thoughts to us in May 1995, Nelson wrote this to encourage us to take this on:

The Ultimate Goal

Every church is an expression of the builders, and so is every organ. When this instrument is finished, Community members will feel they are a part of the organ, and the organ is part of them. It will give voice to their aspirations and resonate with deep-seated meaning.

Building a magnificent instrument is hard work, sometimes tedious and always prolonged. Non-professionals may become discouraged, just as organ builders are when the job drags on. The difference is that organ builders hold a vision that gives them boundless energy and faith. They know the end result and imagine how it sounds.

Community members will understand everything when their labor comes to life and the organ starts to play. Lumber and leather, wire, and wind—if a pipe organ can sing with the angels, isn’t there hope for us all?

The list of people to thank is simply endless at this point, but here are names of those without whom this organ would not exist:

Mother Betty Pugsley

Nelson Barden

Sean O’Donnell

Joseph Sloan

Joseph Rotella

John Ananda

Jonathon Ambrosino

Duane Prill

William Czelusniak

Richard Houghten

Joseph Zamberlan

Christopher Broome

David Broome*

James Hudson Crissman

Peter Rudewicz

Thomas Murray

David Craighead*

Gerre Hancock*

*deceased

To learn more, please visit our website, www.communityofjesus.org.

—Nelson Barden and Jim Jordan

Since 1956, Nelson Barden has been recognized as one of America’s leading experts in the museum quality restoration of orchestral pipe organs—particularly the work of E. M. Skinner—and is President of Nelson Barden & Associates.

Jim Jordan is one of the organists in residence at the Church of the Transfiguration at the Community of Jesus since 1988, during which has performed as an organ accompanist for Gloriæ Dei Cantores, and a soloist throughout the United States and Eastern and Western Europe.

RELATED: View a video about the project here

Nelson Barden & Associates

Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, Massachusetts

NORTH GREAT

1. 16′ Violone 73

2. 8′ First Diapason 61

3. 8′ Second Diapason 61

    8′ Violone --

4. 8′ Harmonic Flute 61

5. 8′ Gemshorn 61

6. 8′ Gemshorn Celeste (TC) 49

7. 4′ Octave 61

8. 4′ Harmonic Flute 61

9. 2′ Fifteenth 61

10. Willis Mixture IV 244

15 19 22 26 12

12 15 19 22 24

8 12 15 19 12

1 8 12 15 13

11. 16′ Posaune 61

12. 8′ Cornopean 61

13. 4′ Clarion 61

Tremolo

North Great Sub

North Great Unison Off

North Great Super

8′ Tuba Mirabilis Choir

8′ Tuba Major Processional

8′ Trompette Militaire Processional

SOUTH GREAT

14. 16′ Gedecktpommer 68

15. 8′ Stentorphone 73

16. 8′ Principal 61

17. 8′ Bourdon 61

18. 4′ Octave 61

19. 4′ Nachthorn 61

20. 2-2⁄3′ Twelfth 61

21. 2′ Fifteenth 61

22. Fourniture III–V 245

15 19 22 12

12 15 19 22 12

8 12 15 19 12

1 8 12 15 12

1 5 8 12 15 13

23. Scharff III–IV 220

15 19 22 18

12 15 19 6

12 15 17 19 18

8 12 15 17 6

8 10 12 15 13

24. 16′ Willis Trombone 56

25. 8′ Willis Trumpet 61

26. 8′ Hautbois 68

27. 4′ Clairon 68

Tremolo

South Great Unison Off

East Chimes

SWELL

28. 16′ Bourdon 73

29. 8′ Diapason 73

30. 8′ Salicional 73

31. 8′ Voix Celeste 73

      8′ Bourdon (ext 16′ Bourdon) --

32. 8′ Rohrflöte 61

33. 8′ Flauto Dolce 73

34. 8′ Flute Celeste (TC) 61

35. 4′ Octave 73

36. 4′ Triangle Flute 73

37. 2′ Flautino 61

38. Willis Mixture IV 244

15 19 22 26 12

8 12 15 19 36

1 8 12 15 13

39. 16′ Waldhorn 73

40. 8′ Trumpet 73

41. 8′ Oboe d’Amour 73

42. 8′ Vox Humana 73

43. 4′ Clarion 61

Tremolo

Swell Sub

Swell Unison Off

Swell Super

8′ Tuba Mirabilis Choir

8′ Tuba Major Processional

8′ Trompette Militaire Processional

Orchestral Bells

Orchestral Harp

ANTIPHONAL

44. 16′ Lieblich Bourdon 61

45. 8′ Diapason 73

46. 8′ Gross Flute 73

47. 8′ Clarabella 73

48. 8′ Erzähler Celeste II (celeste TC) 134

49. 4′ Principal 61

50. 4′ Harmonic Flute 61

51. Mixture IV 244

12 15 19 22 18

8 12 15 19 12

1 8 12 15 31

Tremolo

Antiphonal Sub

Antiphonal Unison Off

Antiphonal Super

CHOIR

52. 16′ Erzähler 85

53. 8′ Diapason 73

54. 8′ Cello 73

55. 8′ Cello Celeste 73

56. 8′ Viola 73

57. 8′ Viola Celeste 73

58. 8′ Concert Flute 73

59. 8′ Lieblich Gedeckt 73

      8′ Erzähler --

60. 8′ Erzähler Celeste 73

61. 8′ Aeoline Celeste II (celeste TC) 110

62. 4′ Principal 73

63. 4′ Flute 61

64. 2-2⁄3′ Nazard 61

65. 2′ Piccolo 61

66. 1-3⁄5′ Tierce 61

67. 1′ Sifflöte (to f54) 54

68. Low Mixture III–IV 207

15 19 22 12

12 15 19 12

8 12 15 13

1 8 12 15 24

69. High Mixture III 183

22 26 29 18

19 22 26 12

15 19 22 12

12 15 19 6

8 12 15 13

70. 16′ Heckelphone 73

      8′ Heckelphone --

71. 8′ Flügel Horn 73

72. 8′ English Horn 73

73. 8′ Clarinet 73

Tremolo

74. 8′ Tuba Mirabilis 67

Choir Sub

Choir Unison Off

Choir Super

PROCESSIONAL

75. 8′ Principal Diapason 73

76. 8′ Gamba Celeste II 146

77. 8′ Orchestral Flute 73

78. 8′ Chorus Trumpet 73

Tremolo

79. 8′ Tuba Major 73

80. 8′ Trompette Militaire 73

Processional Sub

Processional Unison Off

Processional Super

STRING

      16′ Double Violin (Kimball, ext) --

      16′ Contra Viol (Haskell, ext. Ætheria)

81. 16′ Bourdon 73

82. 8′ Diapason 61

83. 8′ Violin 85

84. 8′ Violin Celeste 73

85. 8′ Cello 73

86. 8′ Cello Celeste 73

87. 8′ Flared Gamba 73

88. 8′ Flared Gamba Celeste 73

89. 8′ Gross Gamba 73

90. 8′ Gross Gamba Celeste 73

91. 8′ Cellos II (flat-front) 134

92. 8′ Salicional 73

93. 8′ Voix Celeste 73

94. 8′ Viole Ætheria 97

95. 8′ Viole Ætheria Celeste (TC) 61

96. 8′ Voix Celeste II (celeste TC) 110

97. 8′ Chimney Flute 73

98. 8′ Dulciana 73

99. 8′ Unda Maris (TC) 61

100. 8′ Quintadena 73

101. 8′ Quintadena Celeste (TC) 61

102. 8′ Flute Celeste II (celeste TC) 110

      4′ Violin Celeste II --

      4′ Violina Ætheria --

      4′ Voix Celeste II --

103. 4′ Triangle Flute 61

104. 2-2⁄3′ String Nazard 61

      2′ Violette

105. 1-3⁄5′ String Tierce (to c49) 49

106. 8′ Cornopean 61

107. 8′ French Horn 61

108. 8′ English Horn (free reed) 61

109. 8′ Oboe (labial) 61

110. 8′ Vox Humana (TC) 49

Tremolo

String Sub

String Super

String Unison Off

SOLO

111. 8′ Horn Diapason 73

112. 8′ Flauto Mirabilis 73

113. 8′ Saxophone (wood) 73

114. 8′ Viola 73

115. 8′ Viola Celeste 73

116. 8′ Dulcet II 146

117. 8′ Silver Flute 73

118. 4′ Concert Flute 61

119. 4′ Viole Celeste II 122

      4′ Silver Flute --

120. 8′ English Horn 73

121. 8′ Labial Clarinet 61

122. 8′ Orchestral Oboe 73

Tremolo

8′ Tuba Mirabilis Choir

8′ Tuba Major Processional

8′ Trompette Militaire Processional

Tremolo

Solo Sub

Solo Unison Off

Solo Super

Orchestral Harp

Harp

Orchestral Bells

East Chimes—West Chimes

ECHO

123. 8′ Echo Principal 61

124. 8′ Gamba 66

125. 8′ Dulcet Celeste II 146

126. 8′ Philomela 73

127. 8′ Fern Flute 73

128. 8′ Wood Celeste (TC) 49

129. 8′ Muted Viole 73

130. 8′ Muted Viole Celeste 73

131. 8′ Spitzflute Celeste II (celeste TC) 134

132. 8′ Double-Enclosed Aeoline 61

133. 4′ Fugara 61

134. 4′ Harmonic Flute 61

135. 2′ Piccolo 61

16′ Clarinet (Bassoon bass) 12

136. 8′ Clarinet (free-reed) 73

Tremolo

137. 16′ Bass Vox 73

138. 8′ Baritone Vox 73

139. 8′ Tenor Vox 73

140. 8′ Alto Vox 73

141. 8-4′ Soprano Vox I-II 112

142. 8′ Vox Humana (doubly-enclosed) 61

143. Aeolian Mixture IV–V 275

8 12 15 17 18

1 8 12 15 17 31

1 8 12 15 12

Vox Chorus Tremolo

PEDAL

      64′ Gravissima --

      32′ Open Wood (ext Major Bass) 12

      32′ Erzähler (ext Choir) 12

144. 16′ Open Wood 56

145. 16′ Major Bass (wood, Haskell bass) 44

146. 16′ Open Diapason (metal) 32

      16′ Double Violin String

      16′ Violone North Great

      16′ Contra Viol String

     16′ Erzähler Choir

      16′ Bourdon Swell

      16′ Echo Bourdon String

      16′ Lieblich Bourdon Processional

 .    16′ Gedecktpommer South Great

147. 16′ Quintadena (in Echo) 32

      8′ Open Wood --

148. 8′ Principal 44

      8′ Major Bass --

      8′ Violone North Great

      8′ Viol Ætheria String

      8′ Concert Flute Choir

      8′ Erzähler Choir

      8′ Gedeckt Swell

      8′ Still Gedeckt String

      8′ Lieblich Gedeckt Processional

      4′ Octave --

      4′ Concert Flute Choir

      4′ Erzähler Choir

      4′ Gedeckt Swell

      32′ Bombarde --

      32′ Waldhorn (TC) Swell

149. 16′ Bombarde 56

      16′ Posaune North Great

      16′ Willis Trombone South Great

      16′ Waldhorn Swell

      16′ Heckelphone Choir

      16′ Clarinet Echo

      8′ Bombarde --

      8′ Heckelphone Choir

      8′ English Horn Choir

      4′ Heckelphone Choir

      8′ Tuba Mirabilis Choir

      8′ Tuba Major Processional

      8′ Trompette Militaire Processional

COUPLERS

N. Great to Pedal

N. Great to Pedal 4

S. Great to Pedal

S. Great to Pedal 4

Swell to Pedal

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal

Choir to Pedal 4

Solo to Pedal

Solo to Pedal 4

Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great

Swell to Great 4

Choir to Great 16

Choir to Great

Choir to Great 4

Solo to Great 16

Solo to Great

Solo to Great 4

Solo to Swell

Choir to Swell

Great to Solo

Swell to Solo

Swell to Choir 16

Swell to Choir

Swell to Choir 4

Solo to Choir 16

Solo to Choir

Solo to Choir 4

String on Great

Echo on Great

Antiph. on Great

Proc. on Great

String on Swell

Echo on Swell

Antiph. on Swell

Proc. on Swell

String on Choir

Echo on Choir

Antiph. on Choir

Proc. on Choir

String on Solo

Echo on Solo

Antiph. on Solo

Proc. on Solo

BALANCED PEDALS

I—II—III—IV—V/Crescendo

EXPRESSION THUMB SLIDES

Swell—Great—Choir

EXPRESSION MATRIX

Assigns any of the following onto any or all of the balanced pedals and thumb slides. When an enclosure or control is assigned to more than one pedal or slide, the pedal or slide open furthest takes precedent.

North Great

South Great

Swell

Choir

Solo

Echo (west end only)

Interior Echo (speaking into String enclosure)

String

Pedal

Antiphonal

Processional

Tremolo Speed

Tremolo Depth

All Swells

The Matrix has its own divisionals

Standard–1–2–3–4–5–6–7

COMBINATIONS

Generals 1–25 / 1–10 Thumb/Toe

Great 1–10 Thumb

Swell 1–10 Thumb

Choir 1–10 Thumb

Solo 1–8 Thumb

Pedal 1–10 Toe

Great to Pedal Thumb/Toe

Swell to Pedal Thumb/Toe

Choir to Pedal Thumb

Solo to Pedal Thumb

All Divisionals Next – All Generals Next

Next and Previous (multiple)

Library – Scope – Set – Cancel

Solid State Organ Systems Organist Palette

149 independent stops

185 ranks

11,964 pipes

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