Friday, February 4, 2011 Login

Follow The Money

Ah, the holiday season is upon us.

Soon the newspapers will once again be full of stories about how churches are giving turkeys and toys to the poor.

Here’s a brief reminder of how they’ve more typically been spending their time and money in the month that I’ve been away:

Arizonia Church To Unveil $4.5 Million In Renovations (Diana Balazs/The Arizona Republic; Oct 19)

Nearly 50 years ago, the late John Pritzlaff and his wife, Mary Dell, donated the original organ for the sanctuary of their church, St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal in Paradise Valley.

The 2,768-pipe organ dedicated in February 1962 was built by Casavant Fréres of Quebec, a company that began making the sacred instruments in 1879.

A large tapestry, “Ode to Joy,” was later added to screen the organ but still allow sound to pass through. However, sunlight exposure over the decades caused the tapestry fabric to deteriorate. And the organ was in need of major repair.

A new organ combined with a mosaic glass art project replaced the old organ and tapestry as part of a newly completed $4.5 million renovation of the sanctuary.

On Friday night, St. Barnabas will celebrate the renovation with a free public concert by organist John Scott.

Mary Dell Pritzlaff pledged $1 million to replace the original organ in memory of her husband, a former state legislator and ambassador to Malta who died in 2005.

She said the new organ and artwork blend well and are beautifully done.

“It’s a brand-new face. It’s just all a fresh new face,” she said….

Connecticut Church Celebrates Installation Of New 14-Ton Organ (Michelle Koufopoulos/The Fairfield Minuteman; Oct 20)

First Church Congregational of Fairfield, noted for its socially progressive theology and commitment to community works, will be celebrating the dedication of their new tracker pipe organ with a series of Inaugural events on Sunday, Nov. 14….

Faced with the need to replace an aging electronic instrument, and encouraged by a generous bequest from the estate of Lewis and Alice Burr, as well as numerous individuals who came forward unsolicited with the necessary funds, the church began active planning for a new pipe organ in 2000, entering into contract in 2008 with Phillip Klais, of Johannes Klais Orgelbau, Bonn, Germany.

Klais, a fourth generation organ-builder, manages the same workshop his great-grandfather founded in 1882, on the street where Beethoven was born. Committed to building instruments with high aesthetic and tonal standards, steeped in tradition, but well equipped to meet the demands of the present time, Phillip’s motto is “Interplay Between Time and Space.” Together with a team of 65 master artisans, all musicians, each organ is painstakingly constructed by hand, custom designed for the space in which it will reside; 13,000 craftsmen hours went into the construction of First Church’s pipe organ, which contains 2,103 pipes, 36 stops on 3 manuals and pedals, 41 ranks, and weighs in at 14 tons. It is a moderate, but full-sized organ designed to fill the Romanesque revival sanctuary, which stands on the Town Green. The sanctuary underwent an extensive restoration in 2009, and the style of wood and carvings in the organ façade have been crafted to match the historic church décor.

Wisconsin Cathedral Debuts Massive $1.5 Million Organ (Terry Rindfleisch/The La Crosse Tribune/Oct 24)

The tower of sparkling organ pipes mimics the shape of the surrounding cathedral. Hundreds of these tin and lead alloy pipes line up as curtains in an elaborate 34-foot wooden case that reaches to the gallery ceiling in the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, 530 Main St.

Inside is the smallest pipe, high-pitched, about the size of a pencil. The tallest is 32 feet, huddled among the deepest bass voices of the maple and Eastern pine wood pipes — squeezed behind the case incorporating motifs from the cathedral’s woodwork.

In all, 3,768 pipes surround the organ console. Each soon will sing with joy and praise during Mass at the cathedral.

The church’s $1.5 million Noack pipe organ is considered among the finest in the U.S., created by one of the most prestigious organ builders, said Brian Luckner, the cathedral’s organist and director of music.

“This is the top of the line, the best in organ design and, like the great organs in Europe, should last 200 years,” Luckner said. “It’s very exciting to have this magnificent instrument, which is also beautiful visually.”…

Luckner said the $1.8 million organ project, which includes a new, smaller organ in the sanctuary, began in 2003 when he told then-Bishop Raymond Burke about the need for a new organ.

Luckner settled on Noack as the builder, but the project was placed on hold so Noack first could build the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe organ.

The shrine organ has 40 “stops,” a set of pipes with a particular musical voice. The main cathedral organ has 58 stops, making it one of the largest pipe organs in Wisconsin and the largest built by Noack.

“The cathedral organ has more voices and a larger sound,” Luckner said.

Bishop Jerome Listecki followed through in 2005 with a fundraising project, led by Monsignor Bernard McGarty.

The project included renovation of the gallery, or choir loft, to accommodate the main organ, pipes and new risers and space for the choir. New beams and a stronger foundation were built to support the 15-ton organ, and the choir loft was extended forward about 9 feet.

New York Church Spending Millions On Renovations (James Barron/The New York Times; Oct 24)

Dennis Keene has been learning some new French words lately. The forklift parked in the center aisle of the church where he is the music director is a “chariot electrique.” The hoist above the altar is a “palans electrique.”

And the packing boxes in the back corner of the sanctuary? They hold more than 5,000 “tuyaux,” the essential parts for what he described as the city’s first French-made pipe organ….

“We’ve got quite a mess going on,” he said, leading the way into the sanctuary at the Church of the Ascension on Fifth Avenue….

The church is spending $2 million on renovations to its building, Mr. Keene said….

Mr. Keene said the organ was typical of an instrument in the $3 million-to-$4 million range….

Duluth Church Installs New Million Dollar Organ (Beth Koralia/The Duluth News Tribune; Oct 30)

First Lutheran Church will soon be enjoying a new organ. Local craftsman Dan Jaeckel, who has been building organs for nearly 40 years, is installing it….

The new organ at First Lutheran has 55 stops and 3,600 pipes. Roughly 12 percent, or 400, of the pipes are in place. Jaeckel expects that the organ will be finished in four months.

Jaeckel began working on the First Lutheran organ two-and-a-half years ago. Depending on the size, an organ can take from three months to four years to complete….

Because the construction was so labor-intensive, and the materials of such high quality, the cost of this custom-built organ is well over $1 million — though Jaeckel would not give specifics….

Irish Bishop Asks People Of Cork To Fund $1.6 Million Organ (The Irish Times; Nov 10)

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Rt Rev Paul Colton, has called on the people of Cork to support a €1.2 million [about $1.62 million US] appeal to rebuild a historic organ at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Bishop Colton said the organ was “central to the tradition of worship and music which has been synonymous with St Fin Barre’s”. Those who wish to get involved can sponsor a pipe of the new organ, at any level ranging from €20 to €500, with all pipe sponsors getting a commemorative certificate as well as having their names printed in a special donors’ book to be kept by the organ.

Virginia Church Getting New 8-Ton Organ (Bill Lohmann/The Richmond Times-Dispatch; Nov 11)

RICHMOND: Climbing into the belly of the magnificent new pipe organ at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Bon Air, as I did the other day, felt a bit like dropping into a submarine.

“Little bit more headroom,” Aaron Reichert said with a laugh.

Not much more.

Surrounded and dazzled by pipes of every size and sound, you just hope no one takes a seat at the keyboard and launches into Bach while you’re inside the sonorous beast.

Reichert and his colleague, Christopher Bono, have been working since August to install the organ in a loft above the sanctuary at St. Michael’s. They’ve put in each of the 2,480 handmade pipes — ranging in size from less than a half-inch to one more than 16 feet long and shaped like a trombone. The organ is 20 feet tall and 19 feet wide, has three keyboards and 36 stops, and weighs 8 tons….

It’s expensive, too. Taylor & Boody’s pipe organs range from those that will fit inside a minivan and cost about $75,000 to one planned for a New York church that will be more than twice the size of St. Michael’s, require more than two years to build and cost about $3 million.

Crystal Jonkman, director of music and arts at St. Michael’s, didn’t want to say what the church was paying for the organ, which will replace a much smaller pipe organ, but acknowledged it is “a huge step of faith for this congregation.”…

$6 Million Spent On Massachusetts Church Organ Project (Austin Siegemund-Broka/The Harvard Crimson; Nov 16)

Edward Elgar’s hymn “Great is the Lord” is a piece practically made for the organ, as it surges forward in great swells, slowly cascades through climbing chords, and demonstrates delicate melodic interplay.

Fittingly, the piece was the central work at Memorial Church’s Veterans Day service on Sunday, which marked the unveiling of Appleton Chapel’s new organ, installed last week.

Nicknamed “the Skinner,” the newly installed instrument is part of a two-organ solution to a musical quandary that has plagued Memorial Church since its construction in 1932. Apart from enhancing the church’s musical capacity, however, this organ’s placement also restores the original spatial layout of the church and chapel, in a long-awaited renovation….

The Fisk organ was installed in 1967 because of an original organ’s inability to perform both tasks the church required—being too loud to accompany the intimate morning prayers in Appleton Chapel, yet never mustering the volume to fill Memorial Church for larger services.

But when Edward E. Jones came to Memorial Church in 2003 as Acting University Organist and Choirmaster, he saw the Fisk as having this same problem. Reverend Peter J. Gomes, a Divinity School professor, encouraged him to find a solution, and the church formed a committee….

Instead of making modifications to the iconic Fisk organ, Jones and Gomes arrived at the solution of removing it instead. They planned to then install two different organs in the church, each of which would serve a distinct musical purpose. Besides the Skinner, a larger organ—Fisk-commissioned, and currently being constructed—will be installed in the church’s rear gallery this summer. Scheduled to be unveiled on Easter Sunday of 2012, this new Fisk will accompany larger services….

This organ project, which costs approximately $6 million and will be funded by donors and church members, was inspired by more than just the desire to enhance the music of Memorial Church. The removal of the old Fisk organ also restores the original 1932 architecture of the church and Appleton Chapel, a change many have been awaiting since 1967….

The organ renovation marks the beginning of projects that celebrate Gomes’s legacy, as the preacher will retire in June 2012. According to Jones and Lane, Gomes has always supported the church’s music program and had long hoped to return the church to its original layout.

“This is not a vanity project for Peter Gomes. It’s really about the church and the music of the church having the instruments to do what it can do best,” Jones says….

Florida Church Unveils Lavish New Organ (The Orlando Sentinel; Nov 15)

The First United Methodist Church will dedicate its newly renovated sanctuary organ on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the 8:15 a.m . and 11 a.m. services….

The renovation by Randall Dyer and Associates of Jefferson City, Tenn., cost nearly $500,000 and included re-leathering of the entire instrument, the addition of a few new ranks and the exchange of a limited number of ranks from 1950 tastes to contemporary conventions….

For more examples of the obscene way religious congregations tend to lavish money on themselves and their own perceived needs while being praised to high heaven for the relatively small amounts they give to poor non-members with painfully real needs, see the entry I posted Feb 1, 2010 or Nov 24, 2008 (among numerous others).

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Originally posted at: Atheist Under Ur Bed

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