Cover feature

February 9, 2011

P. J. Swartz, Inc.,
Eatonton, Georgia
St. Andrew’s, Sanford, Florida
The final home for this organ was reached after a long and unusual trip. Originally, this organ served a congregation in Jackson, Mississippi. When the church made the decision to move to a suburban location, the organ was removed and placed in storage for many years. When the time came for them to build a new worship center, they contacted me regarding the possibility of reinstalling the organ in the new space. After study, it was determined that reusing the organ would not be a suitable solution.
Several weeks later, the church contacted me again to inquire about finding another church that might possibly want the organ. As it happened, a large metropolitan church in Tennessee had experienced a fire that destroyed their church and Kimball organ. The church was contacted to determine their level of interest, and as a result, the organ was given to them.
After some time passed, the church in Tennessee needed to rethink their earlier decision. They were not in a position to store or install an organ. It was a difficult time for this congregation, and, ultimately, they decided that they were unable to accept the organ.
After several more months in storage, a deadline approached. The organ had to be removed from the storage facility. With a lack of space in our own shop for a 46-rank organ, we began to wonder if this organ would end up as salvage.
St. Andrew’s had engaged a consultant, Scott Riedel of Scott R. Riedel & Associates. By chance, Scott contacted me to see if I knew about a pre-owned organ that would be suitable for his client. Naturally I was excited by the possibility; however, we had less than thirty days to make a decision. As everyone knows, it is very difficult for a church committee to gather all of its members together to discuss an opportunity like this—especially in the summer months.
The St. Andrew’s congregation is very blessed. Their committee was made up of a group of progressive people who desired to do the right thing and moved forward quickly. They made arrangements to move the organ out of the storage facility and into our shop until final plans could be made.
Scott Riedel devised many good ideas for expanding the resources of this organ to make it suitable for use with the music program at St. Andrew’s. Knowing what was needed to bring the project to completion, it was my decision to partner with Organ Supply Industries. The entire firm was eager to help with every aspect of the project. Through each stage, they were available to provide help and suggestions. The assistance of Organ Supply expands the capabilities of small builders, making these types of projects an easy reach.
The outcome of this project has been rewarding to all involved. We extend special thanks to Dr. R. C. Sproul, senior pastor; Jim Pyrich, organ committee chair; and Dr. Terry Yount, organist at St. Andrew’s. Further recognition is given to Scott Riedel for the endless hours spent dealing with all of the glitches that occurred as we worked to refurbish and install an existing organ in a new building. We acknowledge Randy Wagner and Bob Rusczyk of Organ Supply who never said “no” to any request. And we thank Joe Clipp and Homer Lewis of Trivo who kept working until all details were totally resolved.
I also wish to thank my staff consisting of Nick Schroeder, Robert Gladden, Steve Rainsford, Adam Smith, and Erich Roeder. Their hard work and commitment to doing whatever was necessary in the final days to complete this project, made this beautiful instrument a reality.
Phil Swartz
P. J. Swartz, Inc

From the consultant
The Riedel staff has been honored and privileged to serve the congregation of St. Andrew’s, Sanford, Florida. We have done so in the capacity of consultants in the areas of room acoustic design, organ preparation and selection, and sound and video system design. The project has throughout been a study in notable and remarkable contrasts—in nearly every aspect of the congregation’s ministry, functional needs and desires, and the architectural fabric of their worship space and campus. St. Andrew’s is a long-established and large congregation, but their former buildings were too small and uninspiring. Their project goal was to realize a large and commodious traditional and Gothic-styled worship space, outfitted with a full complement of modern technologies. A hallmark of St. Andrew’s ministry is their vast outreach program employing the latest in multi-media technologies; the message, however, is a formal and traditional program of biblical teaching and interpretation.
These contrasts continued throughout the design of the new building. The Gothic-inspired structure—having arches, columns, vaults, transepts, and clerestory windows—is entirely built of modern materials. The architects designed a steel superstructure, and clad it with pre-formed and composite newly developed materials. Our acoustical task was to create a very classic room for natural, non-electronically reinforced choral, organ, and instrumental music with a generous, even, and warm reverberation period. This was achieved by using primarily hard, dense, sound-reflective and reinforcing materials and treatments. Hard composite material finishes, multiple layers of dense wall components, sealed surface textures, and diffuse, multi-faceted surface forms and profiles were employed throughout the space. These were blended by the architects into their design vision. Hard tile, wood, and brick flooring, along with closely spaced structural framing, angled and diffusive wall and ceiling geometries, have all been employed into this classically styled new building. Further, the building is fully equipped with state of the art sound and video system components. The nave’s sound system delivers clear, intelligible speech to worshippers in every corner of the vast, live room. Complete sound and video recording, mixing, and broadcast technologies have been provided to facilitate the many media-based education and ministry programs of this dynamic congregation.
The building design was already in process at the time we were invited to be part of the project team. The overall size, shape, and style of the church were decided upon, and all had the potential to reveal a good acoustical space for traditional worship employing sermon, lessons, prayers, and organ and choral music. We enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the architectural design team. The necessary design detailing and treatments for acoustical success were all embraced and adopted into the fabric of the structure. A significant challenge was to design and prepare spaces for a pipe organ that was not yet selected. Three chamber spaces were adopted into the architectural design. The two primary organ spaces are at either side of the chancel, above and behind the choir singers’ riser plaza. These chambers, which orient the primary tonal projection not “across” the chancel, but instead down the length of the nave, are built to accommodate the Great, Swell, Choir, and Pedal divisions. Chamber tone openings were designed to be as large and non-obstructive as possible. Further, structural steel carriages were created to facilitate cases or cantilevers forward of the chamber tone openings. Chamber interior cladding includes concrete floors and multiple layers of sound-reflective gypsum board, glued and screwed together and to the building’s structure, to maximize tonal reflection and reinforcement. The third chamber, with details similar to the chancel chambers, is located at the rear of the nave for an Antiphonal organ division.
Another significant “contrast” in the organ project was that of a budget too small to fund a new instrument of the quality, size, and scope desired for the imposing new church. In fact, the client’s first request to us was to design the organ chamber spaces for a future pipe organ, but to make the spaces usable for interim digital organ speakers, since a digital organ was all that the budget could support. It was in this context that we began to search for a used pipe organ that might be able to be re-purposed into St. Andrew’s at an achievable price range.
In the course of searching for a potential organ, one of the resources contacted was P. J. Swartz, Inc. of Eatonton, Georgia. Here the remarkable contrasts and opportunities continued! Mr. Swartz knew of a congregation with a sizable instrument that was not going to fit into that congregation’s new building. The congregation, Parkway Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi, was willing to give their old Reuter organ away if it would go to a “good new home”. This generous gift allowed the St. Andrew’s funds available to be used to move, restore, augment, and install the instrument. Now the old organ has become new again! The budget, too small to purchase an all-new organ, was sufficient to support the re-purposed instrument. The old organ has a new electrical system, new layout, added stops, new digital features, and it all has been revoiced to fit the new space.
While the relocation of an old organ into a new space is not a new concept or practice under our consultation, we were indeed privileged to work with many contrasting new and old friends throughout this project. Our special thanks to:
• Organ and acoustic committee chair Jim Pyrich, for inviting us into the project, and for his tireless work and friendship throughout.
• Terry Yount, the new organist and artist in residence at St. Andrew’s, for his keen artistic eyes and ears.
• Philip J. Swartz, organbuilder, and his new apprentice, now become associate, Nicholas Schroeder, for finding and installing this notable instrument for St. Andrew’s.
• Organ Supply Industries principal Randy Wagner, for his excellent technical guidance in blending old and new together.
• Walker Technical Company, and their representative Robert Gladden, and the Peterson Electro-Musical Products Company, for their innovative products and technical support.
• Joe Clipp and Homer Lewis at Trivo Reeds, for bringing new tone and life to formerly tired pipes.
• The many church member volunteers at St. Andrew’s who supported and facilitated the project.
• Rev. R.C. Sproul, pastor of St. Andrew’s and visionary church leader.

Scott R. Riedel & Associates, Ltd., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Project Team

Acoustic engineer, Eric Wolfram
Sound and video system designer, David Hosbach (DH Audio Visions)
Architectural assistant, Timothy Foley
Organ technician, David L. Beyer
Organ consultant, Scott R. Riedel

Photo credit: Nick Bichanich

For information:
P. J. Swartz, Inc.
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Scott R. Riedel & Associates
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Organ Supply Industries, Inc.
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