The Reddel Memorial Organ at Valparaiso University: the first 30 years
As plans were being made in the middle 1950s for the
construction of a new chapel on the campus of Valparaiso University, the
administration was determined to provide an organ suitable to the size of the
building and of a character to
carry forward the tradition of fine Lutheran church music already style="mso-spacerun: yes"> established at the university. Dr. 0.
P. Kretzmann, university president; Dr.
Theodore Hoelty-Nickel, head of the music department; and Dr. Heinrich
Fleischer, university organist, conferred with Dr. Paul Bunjes. The chapel
building, modern in dress but traditional in its long nave, elevated chancel,
and high ceiling, was originally conceived with a bridge across the nave on
which the organ would be placed, but saner counsel prevailed and the organ was
placed in the rear gallery.
In the 1950s the tracker revival was still some years in the
future. Tonal designs in the 50s usually included independent principal
choruses in each division, with the addition of some Romantic stops; voicing
was clearer and more forthright than that of Romantic organs. But electric key
and stop action was still the norm, and free-standing pipework was advocated.
Valparaiso University turned first to one of the preeminent organ builders in
this so-called "American Classic" style, Walter Holtkamp. Disputes
about tonal design and architectural features resulted in awarding the contract
to another builder, also known for his own particular brand of American Classic
organs: Herman Schlicker, of Buffalo, New York. The organ, designed by Dr. Bunjes
in collaboration with Mr. Schlicker, was completed and installed in the summer
of 1959. The dedication of both chapel and organ occurred on September 27 of
that year; E. Power Biggs played the opening recital to an overflow audience.
The principal donor for the organ was the Reddel family, of
St. Joseph, Michigan, and the instrument has since been known as the Fred and
Ella Reddel Memorial Organ. Originally planned as an instrument of 4 manuals
and 101 ranks of pipes, including an antiphonal organ in the chancel, the organ
at its dedication consisted of only 67 ranks and no antiphonal division. Over
the ensuing years, other donors, notably Kenneth Merrill of South Bend,
Indiana, and the Gaertner family of Farmington, Michigan, enabled a few
additional ranks to be added. The organ did not reach its planned size,
however, until the major renovation of 1995. The idea of an antiphonal division
was abandoned. However, the Valparaiso organ is an instrument of luxurious
size, allowing the player a widely varied palette of tonal colors. And even
more important, the designer and builder achieved the unity of character and
blend of stops that are the hallmark of the best organs.
In its first thirty years, the Reddel organ was host to many
of the world's leading organists. And generations of students, their parents,
faculty, and visitors have experienced the dimension that the Reddel organ has
added to Sunday and daily worship.
Professor Emeritus of Music
University Organist, 1958-88
Behind the scenes of the organ renovation
"The organ should have sounded better," we all
thought that balmy fall afternoon during our guest organist's recital. The
playing was superb, but in spite of the fact that the organ was freshly tuned,
it was becoming clear, especially to some of our alumni present in the audience
that day, that the organ's voice was showing signs of age. One particularly
devoted alumnus, Michael Friesen,
was thoughtful enough to bring this to the attention of the president of
the University. Likewise, in his typically efficient manner, Dr. Harre asked
the organ faculty to look into the matter. Prof. Gehring, Eifrig, Bernthal and
myself recommended that two consultants be brought to campus to evaluate the
organ's condition. Jack Bethards, president of Schoenstein Organs in
California, and Lynn Dobson, who later was hired to do the work, both announced
that the organ was in need of serious attention. Because of heavy use during
the school year, mechanically speaking the organ had aged three to four times
faster than a normal church organ. Tonally, pipes had become dirty and had
fallen off speech. Visually, the organ was in need of a good cleaning. Finally,
with the development of technology in the last decade, it would improve the organ's
usefulness and flexibility to update its systems.
The latter issue was the easiest to deal with. Solid State
Logic was asked to design the new relay system and combination action and
provide MIDI and playback capabilities for the organ.
Mechanical issues were also relatively straightforward. The
swell boxes had never worked properly, so the very latest, state-of-the-art
Peterson motors were installed. An elegant new console was built, copied after
the old one. While the organ was disassembled, it seemed financially prudent to
restore all the leather.
The tonal nature of the organ was doubtless the most
delicate issue to deal with and the one which required the longest
deliberation. Extra funds had become available to complete the organ, but we
also needed to consider what voicing could be done on the Schlicker pipes. Our
first priority was to keep the original nature of the organ intact. Here was an
excellent example (and one of the largest) of Herman Schlicker's innovative
work. All of the original scales (save for slight modifications to the the 8';
and 4'; principals on the Great) remained untouched. Selective voicing was done
to the flue pipes, not to change the nature of their tone, but rather to give
it more bloom in the chapel. Reeds were cleaned thoroughly and new tongues were
inserted in many, thus improving speech and tonal production.
A related concern was the organ specification. In 1959, the
funds did not exist to build the fourth manual. A Brustwerk and selected stops
from the other three manuals and pedal were left off. The committee thought
that since the essence of the original Brustwerk stops existed elsewhere on the
organ, and that several other stops, such as a two-rank celeste at 4'; pitch,
and two 4'; regals would not be as useful, we recommended some modifications be
made. There seemed to be a need for more 8'; pitch and string tone on the
organ, which caused us to add two 8'; principals (Positiv and Solo) and a
Salicional in the Swell and strings in the Solo. The battery of reeds in the
Great were completed as planned, but new reed colors were added to the other
divisions--a French Chalumeau, Vox Humana, Clarinet and English-style Trumpet.
Since it was clear that the new fourth manual would not be a Brustwerk and, in
fact, would include a set of strings, the decision was made to enclose the
stops and include Harmonic Flutes 8'; and 4'; and 4'; Principal. A cornet was
mounted on top of the box. A Schreipfeife (13/5'; and 11/7';) which was on the
original Bunjes specification, was installed on the Swell. Electronic 32's
would prove much more economical than the 12 wood pipes called for in 1959.
The organ was re-dedicated in a liturgy on Sept. 15, 1996.
John Scott, Organist/Master of Choirs of St. Paul's Cathedral, London played
the afternoon recital.
Associate Professor of Organ
The School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale
The process of restoration and enlargment
The approach of 1985, the Bach tricentennial, encouraged the
university organists to propose finishing the incomplete Schlicker organ. Not
only did the instrument lack almost one-third of the original stoplist, but
twenty-five years of constant use with only minimal repairs had left the organ
in need of major rehabilitation. The university, however, had other capital
projects underway; no large donor could be courted for the organ project. That
would wait for another decade.
The program for 1985, however, was the basis on which the
1995 project was conceived. By the mid-eighties the university organists had a
quarter-century of experiencing the Schlicker organ in the acoustics and
worship programs of the chapel.
The chests of most divisions were set up to receive the
prepared-for ranks, but there were neither chests for the Brustwerk division, nor
did Schlicker or Bunjes have any idea where such a division would be located.
There was also the need for larger sounds, not the miniatures of the specified
In 1985 Professors Gehring and Eifrig proposed an
alternative to the Brustwerk, a division that was not an independent chorus of
stops but rather a supplement to the Great. Not wanting to violate the
Bunjes/Schlicker concept, the university organists called this "the Cantus
Firmus Division," with additional horizontal trumpets and a set of
Principals to which the other divisions could be coupled. Such a plan would
enable the organist to lead the singing of 1500 voices in "packed
house" worship, soloing out hymn melodies above full organ accompaniment.
The 1985 plan waited for a later project, and the Bach year was celebrated on
the incomplete Schlicker organ.
By the 1990s Valparaiso University had attended to the
several building projects that had earlier taken precedence over the organ
rehabilitation and completion of the center for the arts. Now a new
administration was in a position to let an arts building represent its
accomplishments. Planning such a building for the music department of necessity
included plans for organ performance and instruction. At an early stage of
conceptual planning thought was given to a moderately large organ for a concert
hall. Budgetary restrictions as well as recognition that the Schlicker in the
chapel would always be the locus of organ performance left the concert hall and
its instrument out of the concepts for the Valparaiso University Center for the
Arts. In that center, dedicated in 1995, practice rooms for four organs were
provided and the Bauer Organ and Choral Room gave the Schlicker teaching organ
a happy environment for teaching, rehearsals, and small recitals or master
Martin Jean's appointment as University Organist coincided
with planning and construction of the arts center. The chair of the music
department and Jean reminded the university administration and the public that
the organ at the chapel is very much a component of the arts center as well as
a prominent voice for the musical arts in Lutheran worship. A turning point in
this campaign occurred when the Vice-President for Finance understood that the
Schlicker organ, suffering twenty-five years of neglect, was not serving
students well in their organ education. Her appreciation of this fact set in
motion the renovation, completion, and expansion of the Schlicker/Bunjes organ.
Funded by the Vice-President's office, the organists and chapel
staff of the university first drew up a list of builders from whom to solicit
interest in the project. Those interested were asked to state their
expectations for the renovation/completion, proposing a specification that
would modify the original Bunjes stoplist while respecting the Schlicker
character of the existing instrument. The organists and chapel staff
recommended that the Dobson Organ Company be contracted to refurbish and
complete the chapel organ. The University Office of Institutional Advancement,
while engaged already in a major capital funding drive, undertook to secure the
funds needed by the project. The Eickhoff family were generous supporters of
the almost half-million dollar capital investment.
--William F. Eifrig
Professor Emeritus of Music
Teaching organ students on the renovated Reddel Memorial Organ
It has indeed been a joy to teach organ students on the
Reddel Memorial Organ at the Chapel of the Resurrection. The clarity of the
ensemble, the presence in the room of individual stops, and the color and
balance afforded by the completion of the organ have been noticeable to members
of the campus community and visitors alike.
For students, the renovated organ offers a greater tonal
palette from which to choose registrations. The addition of the 16'; and 4';
chorus reeds on the Great increased the brightness and gravity of this
division; the extension of the 16'; Fagott from the Great into the Pedal and
the addition of an independent 8';
Trompette in the Pedal increased flexibility in this division. Various
divisions have been "filled out" by adding ranks "prepared
for" but not included in the original construction. Thanks to the addition
of a 13/5'; Großterz on the Great, II Schreipfeife on the Swell, and mounted
Cornet on the Solo we now have the luxury of Cornet combinations available on
all four manuals. The Pedal division now includes a 51/3'; Quinte (from the
16'; overtone series) and an 8'; Flötenbass for more versatility. The new
Solo division, which is enclosed, has greatly expanded the tonal possibilities
of the overall instrument. In addition to providing new colors available as
solo stops--8'; Harmonic Flute, large-scale Cornet, Clarinet, and Trumpet--the
Solo division augments the resources for playing 19th and 20th-century organ
literature. Other additions have made it possible to register organ music of
certain composers or schools more effectively. For instance, the addition of an
8'; Principal on the Positiv and 8'; Vox Humana on the Swell has greatly
enhanced the registration of Franck's organ music. The French 8'; Chalumeau on
the Positiv has likewise enhanced the playing of French Baroque music.
The sophisticated technology now available has made it more
convenient to store and retrieve registrations used by a variety of students.
Solid State Logic offers the capability of storing 40 general registration
combinations on each of 256 memory levels. The MIDI technology allows students
to record music which they are studying for playback in "real time."
Also, the Positiv, Great, Solo, and Pedal have two MIDI channels available
which can play sounds from a MIDI synthesizer, thus adding to the tonal
resources of the organ.
Organ students at Valparaiso University study church music,
particularly service-playing, which includes the playing of hymns,
congregational songs, liturgical service music, and accompaniment of choral
music. All of these areas have been positively impacted by the availability of
new tonal resources on the chapel organ. For instance, the accompaniment of
hymns at worship would formerly require the use of the Great principal chorus
including the mixture. This was due to the large acoustic space of the chapel
which needed to be filled with sound even when the chapel was not filled with
worshipers. After the renovation, the situation is much improved as the Great
Principals 8';, 4'; and 2'; provide sufficient clarity and strength to support
congregational singing. The tenor range of the ensemble is also more audible
and distinct in speech. The addition of the 8'; and 4'; Harmonic Flute (Solo)
and 8'; Holzflöte (Great) have proven very useful for choral
Finally, the completion of this major renovation has sparked
new interest in the organ and organ music both from students on campus and from
students in elementary schools in the area.
--Dr. John Bernthal
Associate Professor of Music
Associate University Organist