Pasi Organ Builders, Roy, Washington, has completed a project rebuilding the 1961 Holtkamp organ in the Abbey Church of St. John’s Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota, an edifice seating 2,000 persons and supporting hard surfaces yielding a generous acoustic. The three-manual, 64-rank instrument was enlarged to four manuals and 112 ranks.
The original organ was the last large instrument Holtkamp Walter, Sr., saw to completion and was designed in part by Fr. Gerard Farrell, OSB, and Flor Peeters. The instrument possessed a wide variety of soft accompanimental stops and colors suitable for chant and other monastic liturgical functions. With the advent of congregational song following the Second Vatican Council, as well as with faculty, student, and guest recitals, it became clear the organ could not fully support singing of over a thousand people or bring to this space the power suitable for many organ works. Pasi’s goal was to increase the organ’s power and variety without altering the core of the Holtkamp organ save for enlargement of the console. The rebuilt instrument is capable of developing smoothly the choruses and overall tonal approach of Holtkamp, filling the large room.
A very unusual aspect of the work was the construction on campus of the low octave of the 32′ Contra Bass (open wood) in the woodworking shop. Some twenty persons, including Martin Pasi, joined forces to move these pipes into place.
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