Something new this way comes…
As the new year dawns and new opportunity and excitement fills the air, the Music Ministry has been hard at work with a new project arriving in 2022! While we say goodbye to former memories and former glories, we are making room for something quite spectacular!
The history of the O’Sullivan organ until present day
Over the years we’ve had many wonderful memories made with the O’Sullivan organ. As a unique project, Michael O’Sullivan partnered with former (passed) organist Larry Wilson, Rector Rev. Michael Smith and then director of music Jeremy Knight to produce a unique opportunity to fill-in a much needed space in our expanded sanctuary. In 2008, CtK signed contracts to begin work on a new organ which envisioned the timeless sounds of Aeolian-Skinner with complementary sounds provided and expanded by O’Sullivan. Since then, the organ has gone through many beautiful, but also many rough, times. Consultants in 2020-2021 discovered that the instrument was in need of many repairs, revisions, and expansions.
The Rector of CtK, Mother Anita Slovak, charged organist and Director of Music Dr. Joshua Nichols to find out what our options were more precisely. Several more consultations took place, and they all confirmed similar outlooks: the organ needs work and repair. Costs to repair and revise our instrument were estimated in excess of $100,000. Meanwhile, continual electrical problems plagued the instrument, with no end in sight.
We then pursued modern technologies in the organ industry, especially in the digital market. Music is a central force in the focus and persuasiveness of the Anglican tradition, and CtK was not interested in settling with subpar or parting from excellence in music. We sought bids from Allen Organ Company, Rodgers Organ Company, Magnus Organbuilders, and Viscount Organ, as well as bids from organ repairers and refurbishers.
What we discovered was the astounding and legitimate costs of maintaining an acoustic pipe organ and the great need to be good stewards with our resources. CtK strove for Godly stewardship in both the worship and liturgy as well as in outreach, service, and inclusion.
Christ the King partners with Viscount Organs to produce a one-of-a-kind instrument!
Through Church Organ Works, stationed in Loveland, CO, the Vestry moved forward with a custom 70-stop instrument with a one-of-a-kind speaker system to improve, replace, and expand the current O’Sullivan organ. While we were sad to see our wonderful instrument retired, we were more excited for the future of the music and new instrument in our space. Through the generous donations of congregants, we were able to raise the funds to replace the instrument outright.
We are excited to share this news, and are even more excited to see what the future has in store for our church!
The Vestry moved forward with Viscount for a number of different factors:
- The Viscount Organ Company is the largest international organ builder of fine instruments, their experience and expertise as craftsmen and instrument designers is unparalleled.
- The principle technology behind Viscount is called Physis, a modelling technology which reproduces the actual sounds and characteristics of pipes with mathematical precision and the variations of tone in a wind-blown instrument.
- The instrument we are receiving is only half of the picture: the other half (and arguably the more important part) is the custom organ speaker system to power our instrument: a custom bi-directional system comprising of over 40 speakers with 4 subwoofers, 2 of which are capable of reaching the lowest pitch of our organ: the 32′ Bourdon. No other organ company we accepted bids from could come close to this.
- The tonal design of our instrument will be thoroughly American, drawing from the rich heritage of romantic and symphonic instruments from historic tonal designs (such as G. Donald Harrison, Ernest Skinner, Henry “Father” Willis, and Aristide Cavaillé-Coll). Because of the precise mathematics of Physis, we are able to accurately and faithfully capture the sound and soul of these great tonal visionaries, and thus will reflect the great splendor, beauty, and power of these great instruments gone before. Viscount’s great vision for and openness to our needs and tonal planning were a large factor in considering their bid.
- The instrument we will receive will be capable of great music, but with a budget which is an appropriate use of funds for our parish. Great instruments are expensive, and to build one this scope and breadth would cost over $1,000,000 today (not withstanding ongoing maintenance!). While we love great music, we also love great ministry, and our parish doesn’t end worship and service with the Rite, but with faithfulness and love to the surrounding community and culture. We wanted an instrument which both expressed our deep love for and use of musical liturgies as well as did not hinder our financial ability to serve and continue service and ministry. Properly maintaining and setting up funds to cover future repair and expansion would require an undue financial burden and risk for our parish.
- Our instrument will be one-of-a-kind in Arizona, and will be able to meet and exceed the demands of our thriving music program, including concerts, choral performances, solo organ music, and educational outreach. Though our instrument is based on the American Overture by Viscount, the instrument we will receive is 100% custom including the tonal design/stop list, stop naming, wood stain, and couplers. This will be the first of its kind in Arizona, and will continue to be one of the finest examples of organs in the state.
What about the O’Sullivan?
We found a large and reputable pipe organ company in the U.S. who was interested in our instrument, particularly for the Aeolian-Skinner portion of the instrument. They graciously came to AZ to remove the instrument to help us make room for the new instrument as well as to provide themselves with excellent pipework and parts. It is important to note that the organ is not being removed and installed as it was, but rather being divided up and used appropriately for multiple projects as needed by the organ builder.
So, what remains?
The instrument was completely gutted and removed, with exception to the case and facade pipes. This means, when the new instrument is finished, the space will not change nor will the look. We will still have a great looking and even better sounding instrument which will last for ages to come!
Feel free to email Dr. Joshua Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions about the new instrument. Stay tuned for more news, including dedication concerts and approximate installation dates!