Cover Feature: Muller Pipe Organ Co., St. Joan of Arc, Toledo

January 26, 2022
St. Joan of Arc, Toledo
Muller organ, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Toledo, Ohio

Quite understandably, the Muller Pipe Organ Company is sometimes mistaken for the now defunct M. P. Möller Organ Company. We have answered countless emails and phone calls from across the country that begin with “We have one of your organs from . . .,” and we very politely explain that we are not the same company. It is possible the confusion may have been magnified had our ancestors decided to keep the umlaut over the “u”!

Our company has been in business in Ohio since 1919, so area organists and churches are rarely confused by the similarity in name. Certainly, Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church of Toledo, Ohio, was aware of the difference when we were asked to inspect the pipework from Möller’s Opus 10357. This small three-manual organ was originally built for Mount Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madison, Wisconsin, and provided a fine foundation on which to build a new instrument for the parish in Toledo. While it might be tempting to call this instrument a “Möller-Muller” organ, it now bears little resemblance aurally, mechanically, or visually to the organ known in Wisconsin. Indeed, this instrument is a new Muller organ in every way.

The dream of a pipe organ was first explored by parish leadership as part of a comprehensive project to modify the original 1980s-era interior decor to align with current ecclesiastical ideals. In a leap of faith and with guidance from Paul Monachino, diocesan liturgical music director, the parish purchased the Möller pipework, and it was placed in climate-controlled storage pending completion of fundraising and the planned renovations.

The pipe organ portion of the project was undertaken in two phases. To coincide with renovations to the sanctuary, which included improvements to the acoustic, the initial phase was completed in 2018 and consisted of the installation of casework. The beautiful, mirror-image cases were constructed of cherry by Muller’s woodworking team using traditional mortise and tenon joinery. The overall design has a traditional feel, while the impost and tower crown moldings are more contemporary in appearance to complement the church’s architecture. The gold-lacquered façade pipes feature polished Romanesque mouths to enhance the beauty of the room.

When funding became available for the second phase, a specification was designed using available pipework where appropriate. The plan for a two-manual, sixteen-rank organ to fill the two empty organ cases was quickly adopted.

The Great is housed in the right case and possesses five ranks. The new façade allowed for moderate rethinking of this chorus’s scales and overall concept. The resulting 8′ Principal is warm and articulate, but not particularly loud. The 4′ Octave sings beautifully over this foundation and additionally serves as the 2′ of the chorus. The 8′ Rohrflöte is of moderate scale and wonderfully colorful. Independent mutations allow for multiple effects. The obvious combination is a cornet that works either with flutes or principals. A “composed” mixture created by using the 8′ Principal, the 4′ Octave, the 2-2⁄3′ Quint, and the super coupler is particularly convincing. Borrows from the Swell division serve to provide flexibility in registration.

The Swell is home to nine ranks and is located in the left case. A contrast to the Great Rohrflöte, the Swell Gedeckt is the workhorse of the division. In unit stops such as this, we voice the different “ranges” to serve in the way each will be most used. The lowest octave features a healthy dose of “quint” partial, which is a delightful change of pace from the Pedal’s Subbass. Continuing up the compass, this “quint” effect is not particularly useful in a small instrument, so we allow the stop to bloom into a lovely and full capped flute. Near the top, the scale reduces to promote brightness. This stop also functions as the basis for a small principal chorus, capped with a three-rank Mixture at 2′ pitch. A set of beautiful vintage strings serves as the organ’s only string stops.

While part of the Swell, the organ’s two reeds are available on both manuals. The small but feisty Trompette is perhaps the one “tell” of the organ’s Hagerstown heritage. It serves best as a chorus reed and, when used with the Great Principal, can be a convincing solo stop. The Oboe is a vintage stop from the 1930s and has a hauntingly beautiful English capped sound. These stops fit well with the organ’s aesthetic and are remarkable for their consistency and stability.

The Pedal division, as in most small instruments, is but two independent stops. The Subbass resides with the Great division and benefits greatly from its placement against a solid exterior wall. In contrast with many instruments where one can never have enough 16′ tone, we found ourselves voicing this stop with restraint and care lest it overpower the entire instrument. The Principal is located in the left case, where it forms part of the façade. It is voiced to complement the Great chorus, but also acts as a wonderful Pedal solo stop. The rest of the Pedal stops are borrowed to promote registrational flexibility.

The organ layout is very compact yet fully accessible for tuning and maintenance. Pipes are placed at impost height to maximize tonal egress and maintain a consistent temperature for tuning stability. The low-profile drawknob console allows for ease of play and good sight line to the choir and was constructed of cherry by our artisans. The console and the casework are finished with a clear lacquer to allow the wood to achieve the same rich patina as the existing sanctuary furnishings. New windchests, windlines, and support structure were custom designed and constructed in-house.

The dedicatory concert was given by Todd Wilson to an enthusiastic audience on September 26, 2021. Comments from area musicians reflect upon the pleasing balance and versatility of sound of this modestly sized instrument.

We especially thank Mr. Kevin Foos, director of sacred liturgy and music, for his dedication from conception to completion. We also express our gratitude to the Reverend Adam L. Hertzfeld, pastor, for his vision, perseverance, and encouragement. And to the individual benefactors who made this dream a reality, we believe it is a truly remarkable achievement that your contributions have provided a pipe organ as a musical legacy to enhance worship at Saint Joan of Arc Parish for many generations to enjoy.

—Scott G. Hayes and Mark A. Muller

Staff:

John W. Muller

Mark A. Muller

Jack Muller

Scott G. Hayes

Brad Ashbrook

Nathan Baker

Ryan J. Boyle

Jesse Braswell

Taylor Hendershott

Mike Hric

Jane Muller

Stan Osborn

Assisted by:

David R. Beck

Photography by Ryan J. Boyle and Jesse Braswell

Builder’s website: www.mullerpipeorgan.com

Church’s website: joanofarc.org

GREAT

8′ Principal 61 pipes

8′ Rohrflöte 61 pipes

8′ Salicional (Swell)

4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Rohrflöte (ext 8′ Rohrfl) 12 pipes

2-2⁄3′ Quint 61 pipes

2′ Doublette (ext 4′ Octave) 12 pipes

1-3⁄5′ Tierce (TC) 49 pipes

8′ Trompette (Swell)

8′ Oboe (Swell)

Chimes 21 bells

SWELL (enclosed)

16′ Gedeckt (ext 8′ Gedeckt) 12 pipes

8′ Gedeckt 61 pipes

8′ Salicional 61 pipes

8′ Voix Celeste (TC) 49 pipes

4′ Spitz Principal 61 pipes

4′ Gedeckt (ext 8′ Gedeckt) 12 pipes

2-2⁄3′ Nazard (from 8′ Gedeckt)

2′ Flute (ext 8′ Gedeckt) 12 pipes

2′ Mixture III 183 pipes

16′ Contre Trompette (ext 8′) 12 pipes

8′ Trompette 61 pipes

8′ Oboe 61 pipes

Tremolo

PEDAL

32′ Resultant (derived)

16′ Subbass 32 pipes

16′ Gedeckt (Swell)

8′ Principal 32 pipes

8′ Gedeckt (Swell)

4′ Octave (ext 8′ Principal) 12 pipes

4′ Gedeckt (Swell)

16′ Contre Trompette (Swell)

8′ Trompette (Swell)

4′ Oboe (Swell)

Couplers

Great 16 - Unison Off - 4

Swell to Great 16 - 8 -4

Swell 16 - Unison Off- 4

Great to Pedal 8 - 4

Swell to Pedal 8 - 4

 

16 ranks, 978 pipes

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