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Cover feature: Quimby Pipe Organs, Immaculata Church

July 27, 2023
Quimby organ
Quimby organ, Immaculata Church, St. Marys, Kansas

In the middle of Kansas, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, sits the newly constructed Immaculata Church in Saint Marys. The magnificent structure stands tall against the Kansas winds, and the brick structure provides a stark contrast to the open, light interior of the building. Walking into the sanctuary, one is immediately struck by the craftsmanship of the skilled hands that created the space: marble flooring and altar are surrounded by murals inserted into the ceiling (with a proverbial nod to the Sistine Chapel). Crosses dedicated to the apostles surround the nave and bless those who look on. The tall ceilings and ornate artwork provide a worship space unparalleled by modern-day architecture. The blue background gives the feeling that the ceiling opens to Heaven as parishioners sit in pews to pray and sing.

In 2021 the church building was not complete, but the congregation needed an instrument to complement the space; something that would expand into it and give additional harmony and accompaniment to voices lifted in praise and supplication. This instrument was built and installed in the first half of 2023. The church, in its construction, creates five seconds of reverberation. Because of that, we had to scale the organ to compensate for the magnificent acoustic of the space. Even the mixtures have a say there, because the room carries the upper tones so well. Quimby is also in the process of completing and installing a smaller organ for the transept of the church.

With consideration to the demands required of the proposed instrument, we determined that the inspiration for the diapason chorus would be based on the English organ builder, Thomas C. Lewis (1833–1915), who fashioned his work in the form of the German, Edmund Schulze (1824–1878), who built most of his instruments for English clients. These builders were renowned for their assertive and majestic chorus flue work.

In Immaculata, the splendid acoustics and the size of the space called for the use of heroic scales and voicing to achieve our intended goals.

The major flue chorus complements the chorus reed rank, which incorporates the use of French domed shallots that provide the tonal characteristics of Cavaillé -Coll, and blends to provide full, luscious tones throughout the space. The other ranks in the specification complement the two major flue choruses and provide a balanced level of dynamics.

The instrument installed in the north transept of Immaculata was built in 1966 by Aeolian-Skinner as their Opus 1483. The organ was secured from the University of Colorado, Boulder, by Quimby Pipe Organs in 2021. A complete rebuild and revoicing, retaining all ranks, was accomplished, incorporating the console from Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1523 from Seventy-Sixth Street Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama: two manuals and pedal, four ranks, 316 pipes: 16′ Rohrgedeckt (95 pipes); 8′ Spitzflöte (85 pipes); 2-2⁄3′ Nasat (61 pipes); 4′ Principal (73 pipes).

Those at Quimby Pipe Organs who made contributions to the building and installation of these fine instruments are Michael Quimby, president and tonal director; Eric Johnson, head reed voicer; Joseph Nielson, and Sean Estanek, flue voicers; Brian Seever, service department manager and lead installer; Daniel Sliger, woodshop foreman and lead installer; Charles Ford, project designer; Chris Emerson, executive assistant and lead installer; and the following production and installation team members: Chirt and Aime Touch, Anthony Soun, Mahoney Soun, Bailey Tucker, Bryce Munson, Noah Lipham, Baylee Marten, Rebecca Estanek, and Tygran Gilligan, intern.

—Michael Quimby

Builder’s website: quimbypipeorgans.com/

Church’s website: www.anewimmaculata.org/

Photo credit: Michael Quimby

GREAT (unenclosed) 9 ranks 

16′ Violone (Swell) 

8′ Principal 61 pipes 

8′ Gedeckt 61 pipes 

8′ Viola (Swell)

4′ Octave 61 pipes 

4′ Hohl Flute (prepared) 

2′ Super Octave 61 pipes 

1-1⁄3′ Mixture IV 244 pipes 

8′ Trumpet 85 pipes

8′ Cromorne (prepared) 

4′ Clarion (extension) 

Great to Great 16 

Great Unison Off 

Great to Great 4 

SWELL (enclosed) 9 ranks 

8′ Principal (prepared) 

8′ Rohrflute 61 pipes 

8′ Viola 85 pipes 

8′ Viola Celeste (TC) 49 pipes 

4′ Octave 61 pipes 

4′ Nachthorn 61 pipes

2-2⁄3′ Nazard 61 pipes 

2′ Fifteenth 61 pipes 

1-3⁄5′ Tierce 61 pipes 

Mixture IV (prepared) 

8′ Trumpet (prepared) 

8′ Oboe 61 pipes 

Tremulant 

Swell to Swell 16

Swell Unison Off 

Swell to Swell 4

CHOIR (prepared for 8 ranks) 

8′ Solo Diapason (prepared, Pedal)

8′ Viola (Swell)

4′ Viola (Swell)

16′ Contra Trumpet (Great)

8′ Trumpet (Great)

8′ Cromorne (prepared, Great) 

4′ Clarion (Great) 

Choir to Choir 16 

Choir Unison Off 

Choir to Choir 4 

PEDAL  2 ranks 

32′ Bourdon (ext 16′ Bdn, 1–12 digital) 

16′ Principal 73 pipes 

16′ Violone (Swell) 

16′ Bourdon 44 pipes 

8′ Octave (extension 16′ Principal) 

8′ Viola (Swell)

8′ Bourdon (extension 16′ Bourdon) 

4′ Super Octave (extension 16′ Princ)

16′ Contra Trumpet (Great)

16′ Bassoon (prepared) 

8′ Trumpet (Great)

4′ Clarion (Great) 

Couplers 

Swell to Great 16-8-4 

Swell to Choir 16-8-4 

Choir to Great 16-8-4

Great to Choir 8 

Great to Pedal 8-4

Swell to Pedal 8-4

Choir to Pedal 8-4 

Pedal to Choir 8

Combination Action 

Great divisional pistons: 1–5 

Swell divisional pistons: 1–5 

Choir divisional pistons: 1–5 

General pistons: 1–6 thumb, 7–10 toe studs 

Next Piston Sequencer: 1 toe stud, 1 piston 

Previous Piston Sequencer: 1 toe stud, 1 piston 

Set piston 

Sforzando piston 

General Cancel piston 

Memory Level Up or Down: 2 pistons 

Crescendo and Expression 

General Crescendo pedal 

Adjustable Crescendos 

Swell expression pedal 

Reversibles 

Great to Pedal toe stud 

Sforzando toe stud 

Playback and transposer 

 

20 ranks, 35 stops, 1,251 pipes

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