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Cover Feature: Kegg Pipe Organ Builders/Christendom College

March 23, 2023
Kegg organ, Christendom College
Organ instructor Dr. Jeffery Alban at Kegg organ console

Landmark pipe organs come in a variety of forms, and lucky builders are usually afforded several such instruments over the course of a career. Rarely does one build for a truly landmark building. The Kegg company was chosen for one such building. 

The new neo-Gothic Christ the King Chapel of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, can be seen from the western end of Interstate 66, a few miles east of where it meets Interstate 81 in western Virginia. It is noticeable because it is surrounded by farm fields and thus dominates the commanding and romantic rolling hills. Designed by the firm of O’Brien & Keane of Arlington, Virginia, the traditional cruciform building seats approximately 750 with extended transepts and Lady Chapel in the apse. The floor contains complex wood patterns in oak and walnut and includes marble roundels of the Four Wounds of Christ. There are eight side chapels in the transepts. All the altars and the sanctuary rail were rescued and restored from closed buildings. There are many other unusual features of this building, and I invite you to explore these online. 

Any new building, particularly in this form and style, brings the question of anticipated acoustic. Here the college wisely chose to engage and listen to the advice of Scott R. Riedel & Associates of Milwaukee. The triple drywall in the large organ/choir gallery and double drywall throughout the balance of the building brings satisfying reverberation and excellent bass response. 

The new Kegg organ was chosen based on visits to Canton, Ohio, and the Kegg shop. Canton organs auditioned were at the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Peter Church. Music director Dr. Kurt Poterack considered us based on the suggestion of organ instructor Dr. Jeffery Alban, and was impressed with the color and character of the Kegg organs, particularly the versatility of the relatively modest Saint Peter organ. The new Christ the King organ, while not small, was limited by available space and funds. At 47 ranks, it contains many elements sometimes considered luxuries for an organ of this size. The organ invites exploration.

With a strong choral program and traditional values, Christendom College attracts students in the liberal arts, many of which are drawn toward traditional liturgy and music. Their chapel choir consists mostly of interested and driven students that number twenty-five to thirty, and are well rehearsed. Having outgrown the limited space of the existing chapel, and the new building easily being able to have twice this number plus additional instrumentalists, the program is expected to expand. With our emphasis on choral accompaniment in organ design, the Kegg company was a natural fit to this plan. 

The organ is based on two manual principal choruses, one each in the Great and Swell. The Great is complete from 16′ through Mixture IV, including a strong Twelfth. The Swell is also 16′ through Mixture IV and is secondary to the Great with a more textured tone, ideal for choral work as well as polyphonic music. On this framework, the balance of the organ brings elegant texture and color. The Great French Quartet of 8′ stops is present and is balanced to reflect the ideals of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll late in his career, with a strong Principal and Harmonic Flute, paired with the secondary Rohrflute and Violone. The Great reed chorus is a set of strong Trombas, leaning this division to the English side of the channel. The flues of this division are on four inches pressure while the reeds are on six inches. 

The Swell is of course the workhorse of the organ during liturgies. It is complete with everything required. The strings are narrow, in the late 1920s Skinner style with the full compass Celeste. The Diapason is more narrow than the Great Principal with a texture that compliments voices. The 4′ Salicet is helpful as a third flue stop of this pitch and of a decidedly different character. Reeds here are brighter than their Great counterparts, but still in the English family. While the stop name says “French Trumpet,” that is relative to the “veddy British” nature of the Great Trombas. The Swell is on five inches of wind pressure.

The Choir is of English/American construct, designed primarily to augment the Swell in choral work. It contains the softest and loudest of the three celeste pairs in the organ, including a Voce Humana, which pairs with the Geigen Diapason. The mysterious Flute Celeste is a crowd pleaser and will go well with incense. The Clarinet is orchestral, dark and woody. The first of two Tubas in the organ is also home in the Choir. This stop is patterned after an E. M. Skinner design to be strong, smooth, and lyrical. This division is on four inches of wind pressure, except the Tuba which is on ten inches. 

The Solo contains the aristocracy of the organ. Here we find a lovely Doppelflute, which truly enjoys the reverberant room into which it speaks. The English Horn and French Horn are copied directly from 1920s Skinner stops while the heroic Tuba Magna is based on a Willis model, being full and rich with a complete spectrum of harmonics. This division enjoys several other stops drawn from other divisions for convenience. While only four important stops, the Solo is on three different pressures. The Doppelflute and English Horn are on six inches, the French Horn is on ten inches and the Tuba Magna is on eighteen inches.

The Pedal division has all the elements needed to provide solid support of the manuals with variety in dynamic and well as color. Here we find two stops using vintage pipes, at the request of the client. The 32′ Bourdon is a Skinner stop of 44 pipes that we extended to make a 32′-16′-8′ unit. The 16′ Open Diapason is a Kimball stop of 32 pipes. In addition to these, we find an 8′ Principal, identical to the Great Principal, a 4′ Choral Bass, 32′-16′ Trombone, and 8′-4′ Trumpet. In addition to these six independent stops, the Pedal includes borrows from the manuals of other useful stops to aid registration while not always relying on couplers. The Pedal speaks on six inches of wind pressure. 

The console is movable on internal casters. It and the organ case have Gothic elements to complement the room and rose window, which depicts the Liberal Arts. With bone and rosewood keys, the console contains all the features expected of a first-class instrument today. It is remarkably compact with pleasant proportions and is low enough to allow the organist to direct a choir on risers.

Installed in February of 2023 in less than three weeks by the exceptional Kegg crew, the tonal finishing was completed by Charles Kegg and Chris Soer in time for the opening of this fine new facility in April. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Drs. Poterack and Alban for their continued friendship and support. In your travels west of Washington, D.C., please stop in and see this new instrument in a grand new landmark building. 

Kegg Pipe Organ Builders

Charles Kegg, President and Artistic Director

Erika Barnes

Philip Brown

Michael Carden

Joyce Harper

Philip Laakso

Brian Mattias

Nick Myers

Bruce Schutrum

Christopher Soer

David St. John

Paul Watkins

 

Builder’s website: www.keggorgan.com

College website: www.christendom.edu/

 

GREAT (Manual II)

1. 16′ Violone 73 pipes

8′ Solo Diapason IV (from #2-5-33-34)

2. 8′ Principal 61 pipes

8′ Violone (from #1)

3. 8′ Rohrflute 73 pipes

4. 8′ Harmonic Flute 49 pipes 1–12 from #3

5. 4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Flute (from #3)

6. 2-2⁄3′ Twelfth 61 pipes

7. 2′ Fifteenth 61 pipes 

8. 1-1⁄3′ Mixture IV 244 pipes

9. 16′ Tromba 73 pipes

8′ Tuba (from #29)

8′ Tromba (from #9)

36. 4′ Tromba Clarion 61 pipes

Tremulant

Great 16

Great Unison Off

Great 4

SWELL (Manual III – Enclosed)

10. 16′ Gedeckt 73 pipes

11. 8′ Diapason 61 pipes

8′ Gedeckt (from #10)

12. 8′ Salicional 73 pipes

13. 8′ Voix Celeste 61 pipes

14. 4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Salicet (from #12)

15. 4′ Spitzflute 73 pipes

16. 2-2⁄3′ Nazard 61 pipes

2′ Flute (from #15)

17. 1-3⁄5′ Tierce 61 pipes

18. 2′ Mixture IV 244 pipes

19. 16′ Bassoon 73 pipes

20. 8′ French Trumpet 73 pipes

8′ Oboe (from #19)

21. 8′ Vox Humana 61 pipes

4′ Clarion (from #20)

Tremulant

Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell 4

CHOIR (Manual I – Enclosed)

22. 8′ Geigen Diapason 61 pipes

23. 8′ Voce Humana 61 pipes

24. 8′ Melodia 61 pipes

25. 8′ Flauto Dolce 61 pipes

26. 8′ Flute Celeste (TC) 49 pipes

27. 4′ Octave 73 pipes

28. 4′ Open Flute 61 pipes

2′ Fifteenth (from #27)

29. 8′ Tuba (high pressure) 61 pipes

30. 8′ Clarinet 61 pipes

Tremulant

Chimes

Choir 16

Choir Unison Off

Choir 4

SOLO (Manual IV – Enclosed)

8′ Solo Diapason IV (from #2-5-33-34)

8′ Flauto Dolce (from #25)

8′ Flute Celeste (from #26)

37. 8′ Doppelflute 61 pipes

41. 8′ English Horn 61 pipes

Tremulant

38. 8′ Tuba Magna 61 pipes

8′ Tuba (from #29)

39. 8′ French Horn 61 pipes

Solo 16

Solo Unison Off

Solo 4

PEDAL

31. 32′ Bourdon, 42 EMS pipes, reconditioned, 14 new pipes

32. 16′ Open Diapason (wood), 22 Kimball pipes, reconditioned, 10 new pipes

16′ Subbass (from #31)

16′ Violone (from #1)

16′ Gedeckt (from #10)

33. 8′ Principal 32 pipes

8′ Subbass (from #31)

8′ Violone (from #1)

8′ Gedeckt (from #10)

34. 4′ Choral Bass 32 pipes 

2′ Cantus Flute (from #4)

35. 32′ Trombone 44 pipes

32′ Harmonics (derived)

16′ Trombone (from #35)

16′ Tromba (from #9)

16′ Bassoon (from #19)

40. 8′ Trumpet 44 pipes

4′ Clarion (from #40)

4′ Clarinet (from #30)

Pedal Divide 12/13

 

TONAL RESOURCES: 47 ranks, 41 stops, 2,825 pipes

 

INTER-MANUAL COUPLERS

Great to Pedal 8

Great to Pedal 4

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 4

Solo to Pedal 8

Solo 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

Solo to Great 16

Solo to Great 8

Solo to Great 4

Pedal to Great 8

Solo to Swell 8

Swell to Choir 16

Swell to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 4

Solo to Choir 8

Pedal to Solo 8

Great / Choir Transfer

All Swells to Swell

 

ADJUSTABLE COMBINATIONS

40 memories per User

Unlimited Users

Great: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Thumb

Swell: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Thumb

Choir 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Thumb

Solo 1 2 3 4 5 6 Thumb

Pedal 1 2 3 4 Toe

General 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Thumb & Toe

General 11 12 13 14 Thumb

General Cancel Thumb

Set Thumb

Next 4 Thumb, 1 Toe

Previous 4 Thumb

Clear Thumb

Undo Thumb

Range Thumb

Memory Up Thumb

Memory Down Thumb

Transposer Up Thumb

Transposer Down Thumb

Crescendo A B Thumb

All Divisionals become Next with indicator

Thumb

 

REVERSIBLES

Great to Pedal Thumb & Toe

Swell to Pedal Thumb & Toe

Choir to Pedal Thumb & Toe

32′ Trombone Thumb & Toe

32′ Bourdon Toe

Adjustable Full Organ Thumb & Toe

 

ACCESSORIES

Swell expression pedal

Choir expression pedal

Solo expression pedal

2-memory adjustable Crescendo pedal

Concave and radiating pedal clavier

Adjustable bench

Numeric Crescendo indicator

Full Organ indicator

Transposer ±5 semitones

Integral performance recording sequencer

Pencil drawer

Cup holder

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