Organ Projects

June 30, 2015

Schoenstein & Co. Pipe Organ Builders, Benicia, California

Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church, Omaha, Nebraska

Aeolian-Skinner renovation

Schoenstein & Co. has completed the re-installation and tonal finishing of Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1090 for Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The three-manual, 46-rank organ, designed in 1946 and completed in 1950, was dedicated as a war memorial to those lost in World War II. It has been a beloved part of this historic church ever since. In an effort to provide the church with the most complete instrument possible, too much organ was squeezed into too little chamber space. As a result, the organ has suffered throughout its life from lack of efficient maintenance access and proper tonal egress. Following a consulting study, we recommended alternatives for giving the instrument some breathing space. We found out just how much the people loved their Aeolian-Skinner when they opted for the most costly approach—enlarging the building to provide an entirely new organ chamber!

The whole organ including the blower was removed for top-to-bottom renovation in the factory. A new chassis with new expression boxes was built to relocate the divisions, creating an ideal set-up that surely would have been the preference of Aeolian-Skinner had the space been available. The electrical system, which had been partially replaced before, was completely redone with a Peterson ICS-4000 system. Two former tonal additions, a Swell 2 Fifteenth and Choir 13⁄5 Tierce, were retained, but on new windchests. One stop that had been lost, a rare Echo Salicional, was replicated according to Aeolian-Skinner specifications and re-installed. Only one stop was added—an Aeolian-Skinner-style Harmonic Trumpet located in the Choir. 

The organ was first used on Reformation Day, November 2, 2014. A solo recital was played by Christopher Marks, professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, on February 22, 2015. The organist of Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church is Mark Jones, and the director of music and fine arts is Barb Carlson.

—Jack Bethards

Schoenstein & Co.


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