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ORGAN EXPERTISE: MUSIC TO YOUR EARS
The rich sounds of an organ enliven the worship experience and inspires congregations around the world to stand up and celebrate. But the design, selection and maintenance of this magnificent instrument can be a daunting endeavor. Now you can move forward with confidence. Riedel is your single source for reliable and objective advice from nationally acclaimed experts.

We can objectively help you understand and evaluate the complex options and types of organs available, engage in price negotiations, develop economic specifications, and recommend enduring designs. With wise selection and high quality care, you can optimize the longevity and function of your church or chapel organ.

Pipe Organ Services Include:
  • Organ Project Consultation
    • New or Used Organ Purchase
    • Rebuilding or Restoration of Existing Instruments
  • Inspection, Evaluation and Tonal Assessment of Existing Instruments
  • Organ Condition Survey and Report
  • Organ Installation Site Preparation Design and Data: space, weight, electrical service, conduits, HVAC, etc.
  • Façade Design
  • Tuning, Maintenance, Cleaning and Conservation of Pipe Organs

business/commercial/industrial

Organ, Room Acoustics and Sound System Consultation

Organ and Room Acoustics Consultation

Organ and Sound System Consultation

Organ Consultation

 

Organ, Room Acoustics and Sound System Consultation

St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Marion, Iowa

St. Mark's Lutheran Church is a congregation that offers a wide variety of worship opportunities and styles. As the project began, the church had one worship space in which they were conducting Traditional, Blended, Contemporary and "High Impact" services. The room contained theater style stadium seating, large areas of carpeted flooring, sound absorbing wall panels and curtains, video screens, and a mechanical action organ that had been moved from the congregation's former church building. Though the effort was made via architectural detailing and A/V system design to meet the needs of the varying worship and music styles, the room metthe needs of none well.

It was decided to create two separate worship spaces on the Church campus so that each space could be designed and detailed to serve their respective worship and music styles with excellence. A new building was constructed for traditional worship, and the existing space was re-designed and outfitted for the contemporary services.

The new building, "Worship Center II", is a long, tall, "center aisle" room with hard surface flooringthroughout, sound reflective and diffusing reinforced gypsum board walls, and a metal ceiling deck that features sound reflective "clouds" above the Chancel and Choir spaces. Speakers are carefully located and aimed to deliver speech to the congregation seating area, but to avoid unwanted sound reflections from other building surfaces. All A/V sytems were designed by Dave Hosbach of DSH Audio-Visions. The rear wall of the room is equipped to contain a retractable curtain so that the room's reverberation period can be altered and "tuned" to accommodate light attendance, or occasional contemporary music use. The maximum Reverberation Period in the room is slightly above 2.0 Seconds, achieving excellent conditions for congregational singing, choral and organ music, and for speech clarity.

The 50+ voice choir is seated in the chancel on tiered hardwood risers that have interior treatment tosuppress foot-fall noise. Twin organ chambers flank the center Chancel window.

The organ installed into the chambers is the restored E.M. Skinner three manual and pedal, 26 rank instrument, Opus 695, built in 1928 for St. John's Lutheran in the Bronx, New York. The organ was available for sale due to the closure of St. John's congregation. Skinner organ Opus 695 was restored and reinstalled into the new St. Mark's Church by the J.L. Weiler Organ Company of Chicago in conjunction with assistance from the Organ Clearing House.

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St. Monica's Catholic Church
Dallas, Texas

The St. Monica's Church worship space is a round/concave shaped room. Originally, floors in the nave aisles were carpeted, and Sanctuary, Choir, and under-pew area flooring was hard surfaced. The concave perimeter walls were primarily glass, with hard surfaced sections between glass panels; these created unwanted echo reflections and "hot spot" sound focusing within the nave. The concave, asbestos clad ceiling surface was highly sound absorbing. The combined sound absorbing effects of the floor and ceiling materials resulted in a reverberation period too low to enhance organ and choral music, and too low to foster good participation by the assembly in sung and spoken liturgy.

The choir and organ space was separated from the main nave by a wood lattice wall that obstructed tone projection, and the former organ was a poorly executed attempt at a baroque tonality, with failing operating systems.

Acoustic improvements to the room include entirely hard surface marble/tile flooring and a sound reflective and diffusive ceiling deck, with sound diffusing wall features having discrete areas of absorbing treatment. The result is a live room that supports Catholic liturgy, with echoing and "hot-spot" focusing effects eliminated. The music area's obstructive lattice wall was removed, and sound reflective diffusers were added to blend tone amongst musicians, as well as to distribute music evenly throughout the nave. The sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed in discrete locations.

The new Nichols and Simpson four manual organ with primarily electric-slider action has five divisions. All pipework is located in a sound reinforcing chamber above and behind choir singers, wrapped in a façade designed by Frank Friemel.

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Community Church of Vero Beach
Vero Beach, Florida

The Community Church worship space is a "fan shaped" auditorium type room. Originally, congregation area floors were carpeted, and the rear perimeter walls were primarily clad in sound absorbing cloth covered fiber-glass acoustic panels. The ceiling was made of coffered plaster, and choir andorgan were located to the upper left of the Chancel platform. The former organ was a neo-baroque mechanical action instrument. The low reverberation period in the space did not enhance choral and organ music, nor did it foster good congregational participation in hymns and sung or spoken liturgy.

The expanded music program of the church required additional and flexible choir seating to accommodate the wide shift between "high" and "low" seasonal attendance. Further, a larger organ, romantically conceived, but capable of setting forth a wide range of compositional styles and eras, was desired. The sound system was aging, and designed toaccommodate the room's low reverberation period.

Acoustic improvements to the room include primarilyhard surface flooring, with carpet only in select aisles, and sound reflective walls featuring hard, dense constructionand uniquely engineered sound diffusing surface profiles. Retractable curtains are installed at the rear of the room to adjust the reverberation period for the high and lowseasonal attendance shifts. Ceiling surfaces were hardened and sealed. The reverberation period is now at 2.0 Seconds. The new sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed within the chancel steps, and monitor speakers to serve those seated at the Chancel and Choir. The system also includes comprehensivesound, video, and recording applications and controls to serve worship, theatrical productions and concerts.

The new Lively & Fulcher organ is located in twin chambers and cases at the rear of the Chancel, above and behind the choir risers. The action is electric-slider, and the movable French terraced draw-knob console has a complete multi-level combination system. The Lively & Fulcher Organ Company also built the matching chancel and choir liturgical furnishings, seating, and wood wall and cabinetry work.

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Before

After

Mayflower Congregational Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mayflower Congregational Church's worship space is as a long and fairly narrow New England Colonial style building with reasonably tall side walls. Original interior materials included significant amounts of carpeting, and many wall and ceiling surfaces clad with sound absorbing acoustic tile treatments. The Chancel choir area was limited in size and flexibility, and separated singers from each other in transepts with low ceilings and with large modesty railings.

The former organ was an electro-pneumatic unit organ, inadequate in size for the church's music program and worship space size, and suffering from failing mechanisms. The former organ pipes were located in a tone-restrictive side chamber that was without adequate climate control.

The extensive music program of the church called for a reliable instrument, capable of accompany and leading sacred music of many styles. Further, adequate flexible and functional space and a supportive acoustical environment were necessary to the present and future goals of the church's music ministry. Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout along with soundreflective and diffusing, hard, dense wall and ceiling gypsum board and plaster treatments. The Chancel and choir area were enlarged by extending the space towards the nave. The Chancel now accommodates all liturgical functions as well as provides space for choir singers, the organ console, a grand piano, and other instrumentalists. Modesty railings are spindle/baluster type to allowunobstructed sound projection. Access is facilitated with a chair lift.

The new Glück organ is located in twin chambers at the front and sides of the Chancel. The primary divisions are on the long axis of the room, in cases/chambers that flank the central Chancel window. The casework and façade blend into the architectural style of the room, andthe expression chambers are finished in multiple layers of dense, sound reflective gypsum board, with both insulation and air circulation fans to stabilize tuning/temperature conditions for the organ. The organ action is electric with some unit actions. The movable side-jambstop tab console has a complete multi-level combination system. The organ employs some restored and rebuilt pipe work from the previous Mayflower Church organ, along with re-purposed pipes from Glück stock, as well as newranks.

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Before

After

St. Hedwig Catholic Church
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

St. Hedwig church is set in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Milwaukee, WI. The building dates at over 100 years old. Over time the worship space interior and organ have been remodeled, updated, redecorated, and rebuilt many times. The instrument and room were far from their original artistic and architectural inspiration and intent. The parish desired a restoration and return of the building to a more historic style and period. The organ was a significant factor in returning to the historic integrity of the room. In 2006 we found the organ to be failing... mechanically, electrically, and structurally. Considerable portions of the original Kimball instrument remained, but over timethe organ had been removed from its original case,changed to electro-pneumatic action, and positioned into two chambers at the back of the balcony that obstructed eight art glass windows.

The project goals therefore included returning the organ to a traditional encased position at the center of the balcony, thus allowing the art glass at the rear ofthe former chambers to be revealed.

Happily, the Holtkamp organ company had available a modestly sized existing instrument available that could be repurposed into St. Hedwig Church, with the best portions of St. Hedwig's Kimball organ available to be combined with the Holtkamp organ. The result is an instrument that contains the bright clarity of the newer Holtkamp organ, along with the rich sonorities of the Kimball pipe-work. All of this has been combinedon new act electric slider actions for superb reliability and tone, with pipes fully re-voiced into a noble, clear, broad palette of tone. Further, the Holtkamp console from the Julliard School of Music in New York was available for sale, so this console now controls the instrument. A classicallystyled case, evoking the architectural idioms of the St. Hedwig room, provides both an artistic visual effect, and a blending tonal effect.

The entire project was accomplished economically due to the restoration, re-purposing, and re-use of good existing resources and materials.

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Faith Lutheran Church
New Providence, New Jersey

Faith Lutheran Church's worship space is as a long and fairly narrow "A Frame" style building with reasonably tall side walls. Original interior materials included a softwood ceiling deck with some tiled and some carpeted floor areas. The rear choir loft had a high, solid railing and side vestibules that obstructed and trapped sound energy. The former organ was in its core a Tellers electro-pneumatic unit instrument with other used ranks added over the years. This organ was located in a Masonite clad chamber at the rear of the balcony.

The growing and vibrant music program of the churchgenerated the need for additional and flexible space to accommodate the parish's many musical ensembles which include full choirs, bell choirs, and instrumental ensembles. Further, a larger, durable and reliableorgan, with sufficient musical resources to lead the sung liturgy and support and accompany a variety of musical styles was desired.

Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout along with sealed and hardened wood surfaces, and multiple layers of dense, sound reflective wall materials. The balcony was enlarged with a cantilever overhanging only two rear of navepews. The balcony also now has a sound transmitting wood baluster railing.

The new Glück organ is located in an elevated case at the rear of the balcony, with sound transparent grill material flanking the case to facilitate tonal egress from pedal ranks adjoining the case. The action is electric-slider with some unit actions. The movable side-jamb stop tab console has a complete multi-level combination system. The organ employs some restored and rebuilt pipe work from the previous Faith Church organ, along with re-purposed pipes from the Glück stock, as wellas new ranks. Faith Lutheran Church

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First Presbyterian Church
Gallatin, Tennessee

The First Presbyterian Church, built in 1837 in Gallatin, Tennessee, was severely damaged by fire in December of 2004. The fire, begun from a Christmas decoration candle on a window sill, burned up the side wall ofthe church, across the ceiling, into the organ chamber, and through the roof of the building. While partly damaged, the Egyptian Art Deco styled organ case survived the fire, along with some pipes from the electro-mechanical organ. The new mechanical action instrument, built by Bradley Rule of New Market, Tennessee, has electric stop controls and a detached console. Room acoustics were enhanced with a coffered detail on the ceiling, reinforced gypsum board walls, and a reduction in the amount of carpet in the space.

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Salem United Church of Christ
Quincy, Illinois

The Salem United Church of Christ, Quincy, Illinois, has a Victorian Gothic structure built in 1876, featuring a "wrap around" balcony, with choir and organ elevated at the front of the room. The old Moller organ, worn and decayed, was installed with extremely challenged access and maintenance space into three chambers. Choir seating, while well placed, was fixed and inflexible in a "stadium" arrangement of theater chairs on carpeted floors. The new Schantz organ, having more ranks than the previous Moller, is accessibly installed into the chambers, with the historic façade pipes retained. The choirarea, with the movable organ console, now featuresportable chairs and risers with hardwood flooring.

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St. John Lutheran Church
Park Rapids, Minnesota

The St. John Lutheran Church building is constructed in the "A-Frame" style, with organ and music ministries functioning from the rear gallery. The congregation's musical offerings include traditional liturgieswith organ, choir, bell choir, and other vocal and instrumentalgroups. Community musical organizations also use the church as their performance venue.

Originally, the music gallery had an unsealed, soft-wood ceiling, carpeted floor, and "soft" sound absorbing acoustic spray material on the rear wall. The former electro-pneumatic pipe organ was composed of a variety of used and newer components, and was inadequate, bothmusically and mechanically.

Acoustic improvements include an all hard surface music gallery floor with foot-fall noise sound deadening under-floor treatments, a sound reflective rear wall madeof multiple layers of gypsum board, and the application of sealants to harden the wood ceiling. Future plans include the reduction of first floor area carpets.

The new Berghaus organ has electric slider main chest action, with some unit chests. The fully encased instrument sits at the center-rear of the balcony, on the long axis of the room. Three ranks of pipeswere restored and re-used from the church's previous organ. The movable console is outfitted with a multi-level combination action as well as player conveniences such as "Automatic Pedal" and "Melody Assist" features to aid pianists.

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Christ Church, Episcopal
Delavan, Wisconsin

Christ Episcopal Church has a classic, traditional worship space with a long center aisle, Apse and Chancel, and a lofty peaked and arched ceiling. The Tiffany windows and Victorian Gothic style of the room increased the building's inspirational setting. The primary acoustic deficit was a too low reverberation period caused by the presence of large expanses of carpeted flooring. The organ was suffering from the effects of dirt andage to the pipes, leathers, and electrical switching system.

The re-designed room honors and maintains the integrity of the original architectural style and detailing. Wood carvings and the Tiffany windows were cleaned and restored. Additional wood wainscoting to match the existing now completes the room. All new hard-wood floors with artistic inlay details create a visual and acoustic vitality in the space. New seating, classically designed, is better oriented for liturgical gathering, and accommodates the flexible use of the space.

The organ was cleaned, repaired, and restored, witha new multi-level solid state switching and combination system retrofitted into the historic, and now movable console.

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Christ UCC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The P.J. Swartz Organ Company of Eatonton, GA has recently completed the rebuilding of the 1969 Verlinden organ at Christ Church UCC, Milwaukee, WI. Technical, mechanical, and tonal revisions and updates were accomplished. These include the replacement of theaging electro-pneumatic switches with a new Syndyne solid state control system that offers an expanded combination action as well as MIDI capability. Trumpet pipes were replaced with a new rank for improved scaling and tonal blend, along with a 16' extension into the Pedal. The original Vox Humana was also replaced with an historic Wangerin Oboe to expand the organ's tonal paletteand functional use. Finally, a 4' Swell Principal rankwas added, particularly so that the unification ofthe Great Diapason stop could be reduced.

When originally installed, the main windchests of this instrument were mounted within the chamber, higher than the top level of the tone opening. From this position, no tone from pipes could project directly through the grille opening to the nave of the church. It is speculated that this "too high" mounting of windchests by theoriginal builder above the tone opening was caused by the tall pneumatic switch stacks that were located beneath the windchests. With the introduction of the solid state switching system, the tall pneumatic switch stacks were removed, and the windchests lowered to bring pipes even to the tone opening level. The result is a renewed tonal vitality, presence, and projection. The repositioning of the organ pipes for good tonal egress, alongwith the replacement of carpeted worship space flooring withpolished granite, has resulted in an excellent musical and liturgical functional space. Scott R. Riedel & Associates Ltd., Milwaukee, WI, provided consultation service to the project. The dedication recital was performed by Donald VerKuilen on Sunday November 13, 2011 to a capacity crowd.

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Luther Memorial Chapel
Shorewood, Wisconsin

Luther Memorial Church's worship space is as a traditional Victorian gothic long and fairly narrow "center aisle" room. Original interior materials included plaster walls and ceilings, with carpeted Chancel, balcony and aisle floors. The choir singers are located in a rear loft along with a "Positiv" organ division. The main Great, Swell and Pedal organ divisions are located in second floor chamber to the right of the Chancel that had two layers of fabric at the tone opening grilles.

The original organ was in its core an Estey electro-pneumatic unit instrument. Later additions of other new and used ranks, along with a replacement console, were provided by the Berschdorf Organ Company. The Chancel chambers were clad in Masonite, and the balcony chamber walls and ceiling were softened and damaged byroof leaks.

A durable, reliable instrument of compatible tonal and voicing styles was desired, along with acoustical improvements for the enhancement of hymn singing, choral, and organ tone.

Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout the Chancel and Balcony, along with multiple layers of dense, sound reflective wall materials in all organ and choir areas.

The Berghaus Organ Company found, restored, re-configured, and installed an historic Casavant organ, re-voiced to fit into the new setting. Due to structural challenges in the building, the primary divisions of the Casavant-Berghaus organ (Great, Swell, Pedal) are installed into the rejuvenated Chancel chambers. An expressive Choir division composed of some ranks and components fromthe church's previous Estey-Berschdorf organ is installed in an updated balcony chamber.

A case of working facade pipes now fronts the Chancel chambers. The action is electro-pneumatic with some unit actions. The draw-knob console is located in the balcony along with choir singers.

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Pilgrim Lutheran Church
St. Paul, Minnesota

The Pilgrim Church building is designed in the Victorian Gothic style. There is a tall, long central nave, with twin transepts flanking the crossing. Originally the Altar was at the front wall of the Chancel, with choir singers facing each other in the Anglican manner. The original Wangerin organ, of primarily unit stops, was installedin a left-front chamber with tone openings only into the Chancel.

Building and acoustic modifications include a Chancel extension toward the Nave crossing, with a central, free standing Altar and movable liturgical furniture. The choir is now located on tiered risers at the front wall of the Chancel, on the long axis of the room. All Chanceland choir flooring, formerly carpeted, is now finished in sound reflective hardwood.

The re-purposed organ was originally built by the Schantz Organ Company in 1958 for the Community Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. Changing worship styles at the Michigan church caused the organ to be sold. The organ was re-designed and installed by the Berghaus Organ Company to have the Great division in twin cases flanking the central Chancel window. The Swell andPedal divisions are placed in the former organ's Chancel side chamber. The chamber has been remodeled for improved tonal projection and to have an expressive Swell chamber separated from the non-expressive Pedal stops. Wind pressures were increased, and the organ was re-voiced to serve its new Lutheran liturgical and architectural setting. The three-manual draw-knob console is movable to accommodate flexible use and positioningin the Chancel.

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Christ Church, Episcopal After

Christ Church, Episcopal Before

Christ Church, Episcopal
Exeter, New Hampshire

Christ Church, Episcopal is a Prairie-style room, with a square floor plan and pyramidal peaked ceiling. The soft wood-exposed ceiling system, porous plaster walls and partially carpeted floor diminished the quality of speech, music and liturgical participation. The failing organ was a collection of used parts from various sources. Pipes were in a sound restrictive chamber behind the altar space and choir singers were located in a corner of the room.

The redesigned setting by Solomon & Bauer Architects, Inc. now provides acoustical space that supports speech, music and liturgy. Wall and ceiling surfaces are now hard, sound reflective and diffusive. The floor is concrete and hardwood. The liturgical space has been reoriented with the altar now beneath the high point of the ceiling. Choir singers are centrally located, and the new Lively and Fulcher electric action pipe organ is fully encased.

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

The former chapel design featured an amphitheater-bowl architectural arrangement. Worshippers entered the room at the high rear perimeter walls and descended down steep stairs into tiered pews, curved around, and looking down upon a small central chancel. The space doubled as a lecture hall and had carpeted floors, concrete walls and a ceiling “open to structure”. A piano was the primary musical instrument.

The entire amphitheater-bowl form was removed to reveal a large shoebox-shaped architectural space. Cone-Kalb-Wonderlick Architects of Chicago conceived the entirely flexible liturgical room; a flat floor allows the placement of the movable altar, ambo and chair seating into any orientation desired for the various liturgies celebrated at the Seminary. A permanent flowing water font was placed in the gathering plaza.  Acoustical detailing includes sound reflective and diffusing plaster wall features, a rigid, sound reflective, suspended hardwood ceiling grid and slate flooring. The new sound system accommodates varied seating and speaking locations in the room. The encased mechanical action organ by Michael Bigelow is at the end of the long axis of the room and features a stop-list large enough for a wide range of musical styles.

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Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
(Roman Catholic)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Formerly, St. John Cathedral had a traditional long center aisle with fixed pews, and a forward Sanctuary with a baldachin covered altar, as well as a free-standing altar. The very small rear balcony contained a 4 manual electric action Noehren pipe organ, with little remaining space for choir singers or instrumentalists. Floors and walls were hard surface terrazzo and marble, and the ceiling deck was a moderately sound absorbing composition tile material. A large and unsightly sound system speaker cluster was suspended from the forward ceiling.

The liturgical renewal of the space included the positioning of a single central altar, a baptismal font and pool near the main entrance, a single ambo for proclamation of the word, and movable chair seating for the assembly. The former forward Sanctuary is now the music ministry plaza, with adequate space for cantor, organ case and console, choir singers, piano, and instrumentalists. A new Nichols and Simpson encased organ is placed at the front of the room, at the Apse/former Sanctuary, behind the choir singers. The new four manual “front” console controls both the Apse and balcony organs. Three digital line-array sound system speakers serve the entire space from discrete locations aside columns, and the ceiling deck has been hardened.

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First Presbyterian Church
Wausau, Wisconsin

This worship space had many characteristics that made musical blend, congregational response, clarity of the spoken work, and choral projection difficult. These characteristics included carpeted floors, an acoustically tiled ceiling, sound restrictive organ chambers, failing organ mechanisms.

Additionally, the original choir location was in a small balcony at the front of the church, above the chancel. This was an unsafe and spatially inflexible choir loft.

In order to improve this situation, the total amount of carpeting was reduced, and the ceiling deck was hardened. The choir was relocated from the front balcony to an enlarge choir / chancel “plaza” elevated at the front of the main floor. This allowed for greater flexibility for the music program. A new sound system includes modestly sized speakers high along the center axis of the room.

The three manual Schlicker organ was designed to be durable, long lasting, and to have a variety of tonal colors for the wide scope of protestant American worship music.

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St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
Asheville, North Carolina

The well proportioned architecture of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church suffered from a poor acoustical environment and an inadequately placed, decaying organ. The room contained both sound absorbing carpeted floors and a porous ceiling. The divided Chancel choir seating arrangement restricted musical flexibility. Worn out organ pipes and parts from various sources were trapped in a deep side chamber with restrictive tone openings.

The acoustical improvements and liturgical renovation of the church included a new Martin Ott mechanical action pipe organ placed on the long axis of the room, and an altar, font, and ambo placed closer to the congregation. Ample space, risers and flexible seating are provided for the choir. Flooring throughout the room is now primarily sound reflective hardwood, with only a modest center aisle runner of carpet. The ceiling surfaces have been hardened and a new sound system projects the spoken word.

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St. Matthew Lutheran Church
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Formerly, St. Matthew Lutheran Church was a modest sized worship space with a traditional long center aisle, a Chancel with a “front wall” altar, and a balcony that held a medium sized choir and an aging pipe organ in a remote chamber. Floors were carpeted, and the ceiling was made of thin, sound transmitting composition wood panels. A dynamic Pastoral and music staff at the church fostered increases in church attendance and choir/music program participation.

The revitalized worship environment now has a nearly doubled seating capacity. There are a central, free-standing altar, marble inlaid floors, plaster ceilings, a tiered music plaza large enough for choral and instrumental groups together, a state of the art sound system, and a new encased organ with enchamade trumpets and a French terraced console. The acoustically live and flexible worship space facilitates creative worship and is a venue that draws a large concert following as well.

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Organ and Room Acoustics Consultation

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The former organ, failing due to age and wear, along with a spatially restrictive choir balcony and a non-supportive acoustical environment, necessitated a program of improvement for the congregation. Closets and a small audio room were removed from the balcony to redesign and enlarge the choir seating plaza for the church’s growing music ministry.  A new sound-transmitting balcony railing was installed to prevent the obstruction of choir and organ music to worshippers at the first floor level.  Hard floors (with footfall noise attenuating features in the subfloor) are provided throughout the room, along with a quieted HVAC system. A new Dobson mechanical action organ with a detached console and electric stop control is located in an innovative case at the center rear of the balcony. 

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First Congregational United Church of Christ First Congregational United Church of Christ
Sheboygan, Wisconsin  

While the overall geometric form of the worship space formed a potentially worthy acoustical environment, the thickly carpeted floors, softwood chancel walls and sawtooth ceiling profile all diminished the quality and projection of sound within the room. The aging and decaying organ, relocated from a previous building, was installed into a cloth covered rear chamber. 

Acoustical improvements included the redesign of the plaster ceiling profile to facilitate the projection and diffusion of musical sound from the choir balcony, the use of hard flooring throughout, and new hardwood chancel wall panels. The Schantz organ is designed into the upper rear chamber now with a façade of speaking pipes that features en chamade solo trumpets. The former Antiphonal organ division in the chancel area has also been re-engaged.

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Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott


Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott

Peace Lutheran Church
St. Louis, Missouri

The Peace Lutheran Church building is newly constructed, incorporating classical elements with a modern interpretation. There is a "center aisle" congregational seating plan that yet wraps the broad Chancel. Musicians are located in a spacious rear gallery that accommodates choristers, woodwind, string, and brass players, a full range hand-bell choir, and a two manual and pedal mechanical action organ.

Flooring throughout the space is hard surface ceramic. The ceiling deck is lacquered/sealed wood, with discrete areas of sound absorbing treatment added to fine-tune the room's 2.2 Second Reverberation Period. The walls are primarily brick, set in a variegated geometric surface profile pattern that diffuses sound, and prevents focusing and echoes. Modest areas of sound absorbing cloth covered fiberglass wall inserts also tune the reverberation time. A spindle type baluster railing at the balcony edge allows music to transmit to the nave without obstruction.

The sound system uses traditional ceiling mounted loudspeakers with supplemental speakers in under-balcony areas of the room. Twin video screens flank the Chancel, and A/V controls are in the balcony.

The Martin Ott two manual and pedal organ has primarily mechanical key action with electric stop actions and a multi-level combination system. The organ is voiced in a modified neo-baroque style, and contains three electric unit action ranks to expand the use of its tonal resources. The console is detached from the case, with trackers running in a chase beneath the tiered choir risers.

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First Presbyterian Church First Presbyterian Church
Fargo, North Dakota

The main worship space at First Presbyterian Church is a large Gothic style room; long, tall, narrow with a central aisle, vaulted arches, choir singers at the upper chancel and a large organ chamber, fronted with a carved wood lattice, at the front of the room. The entire ceiling deck is surfaced with sound absorbing fiberboard that visually simulates stone tiles. The aging and decaying organ was poorly scaled and voiced for the challenging acoustical environment.

When finances allow, the ceiling deck will be replaced with hard, sound reflective material; the reverberation period will then be increased to a level that will enhance music and congregational participation in hymns and liturgy. The new Schantz organ, placed high within the front chamber, enjoys excellent placement on the long axis of the room and is scaled and voiced to project and blend tone well into the current room. Organ tone will further bloom when the ceiling is rendered sound reflective.

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Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church

Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church

Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church
Racine, Wisconsin

The unique architecture of this church created a challenge to achieving a typically desirable acoustical environment. The low ceiling height with exposed structure, overall circular geometric form, and angled glass perimeter wall do not facilitate a “live” reverberant space. The steeply sloped carpeted floor, diminutive structural elements and open ramp circulation halls further diminish the acoustical presence. The lack of a designated choir/instrument area with a flat floor also limited the flexible use of the space. The undersized and failing organ was installed into a chamber behind the altar, with some portions placed within closets reclaimed from adjoining offices.

While a “live” reverberation period cannot be achieved within a building of this geometric form, improvements were achieved. Sound energy is now projected evenly throughout the room, and absorption diminished.  The ceiling deck was refitted with sound reflective decks to close off the sound-trapping exposed structure. Some regions of carpeting were converted to hard flooring, and sound reflective and diffusing wall sections were built adjoining the choir and organ spaces. A dedicated choir and instrument space with tiered floor levels was also built. A functional organ chamber, composed of reinforced gypsum board walls and ceiling, was also provided. It is large enough to contain a suitable organ, and configured to reflect and project tone into the nave. The Buzard Organ Company provided an electric slider action organ for the room, voiced to blend tone and built to blend into the multiple curved architectural geometries of the room.

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Bishop Spencer Place Chapel
Kansas City, Missouri

This project involved planning for a new Episcopal retirement home chapel environment and new organ. Acoustics were designed to be optimal for both speech and music, with special concern given to the needs of the hearing-impaired. Strengthened gypsum board wall & ceiling, hardwood floors, and tall ceiling geometries contribute to the favorable acoustics.

The organ was designed within the framework of the multim in parvo concept; that is “much in little”. Jack M. Bethards, President of the Schoenstein Organ Company writes:

Because of the size of the chapel and the need for maximum versatility, we decided to put both Great and Swell under expression. Since the bass pipes of the Open Diapason would not fit comfortably in the Swell box, we placed them in display but provided two separate knobs to draw the Open Diapason in order to avoid the problem of a big break in loudness at tenor C should the box be closed. The firm bass of the Lieblich Gedeckt serves well to underpin the Open Diapason when it is played under expression. The extended 16’ flute stop is made of four different types of pipes. Given the size of the room and the chapel’s musical requirements, we decided that a celeste to the Dulciana (Unda-Maris) would be more useful than a narrow unison string.

The most important element of this tiny stoplist is the Trumpet under double expression. We have used double expression with great success on several large instruments. I felt that it might have even more utility in a small one. This has proved to be true. The Trumpet, with tapered shallots, is very boldly voiced. It is in its own box, speaking into the main one. This extra degree of dynamic control allows it to play as soft as a capped oboe with the shades closed and then to crescendo a dramatic amount, becoming a very powerful chorus reed dominating the ensemble, admirably leading congregational singing or serving as a solo stop. This six-rank organ has a full-Swell effect of real grandeur.

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Church of the Resurrection Church of the Resurrection
Wichita, Kansas

This project presented the opportunity to optimize the acoustics for a completely new facility. The client desired a traditional cruciform room shape with the music space in the front. A particular challenge in this design was to allow organ tone to reach the main part of the nave, given that the organ was placed in a side transept. The choir / music area was designed to be flexible for the various musical ensembles that utilize the space. Primarily, hard materials were used to create acoustics that are friendly to both music and spoken word.

The Berghaus organ was designed with a wide tonal palette across two manuals and pedal. In order to achieve desired durability, sound quality and flexibility, a detached and electric slider chests were employed.

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First English Lutheran Church
Whitewater, Wisconsin

The project involved the re-design and renovation of an existing space and replacement of a failing electro-pneumatic organ. There were several acoustical deficiencies in the church including excessive carpeting, soft ceilings, and a choir space in a completely different area than the organ. The original organ spoke from chambers into the chancel, and did not project in to the nave.

Our recommendations included a tile floor for the chancel, a hardened ceiling, and moving of the choir space. The new Holtkamp organ now speaks down the long axis of the nave with the choir directly below. From the dedication booklet –

“Our goal was to provide an instrument and liturgical / acoustical environment which would provide for more devotional, inspirational, and exciting worship. This building, of commodious original design integrity, now offers an even fuller, richer service to the congregation. The resonant organ case has been built of historical wood cabinetry, blending with the visual design of space. The location of organ pipes on the front central axis of the room now allows blended tonal projection, balanced to the acoustics of the room. The acoustical environment itself has been ‘brightened’ with more sound reflecting surfaces, giving improved reverberance for organ, choir and congregational singing. Martin Luther’s concept of a central altar table, closer to the congregation, has been achieved fro more intimate and communicative liturgy. The mechanical action ‘tracker’ organ, now enhances worship with warm and clear tone; it will do so for many generations due to its long lasting design and workmanship.”

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First Presbyterian Church
Rochester, Minnesota

This project had a number of acoustical deficiencies including lack of musical blend, poor projection of choir and organ tone, difficulties in congregational response in hymns and service music, less than desirable speech clarity, and unreliable organ service.

These problems were caused by the presence of excessive sound absorbing materials (acoustical tile ceiling and carpeted flooring), poor placement of organ pipes, a decaying organ mechanism, and an antiquated sound system.

Excellent musical rendition and speech clarity along with full-bodied participation by the congregation in the Service has been achieved by raising reverberation time. This was accomplished through the use of sound reflective ceiling and flooring materials, by seating the choir on the long axis of the room, and through the use of a new sound system specifically designed for the renovated environment.

The new Casavant organ has its primary divisions encased on the long axis of the room with accompanimental divisions placed in acoustically enhanced side chambers.

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Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Grace Lutheran Church building is an excellent historic example of Victorian Gothic architecture. While there have been some alterations to the structure over the years, recent restoration and updating projects have maintained the original architectural style.

Acoustical improvements include the re-creation of the original pulpit canopy/sound reflector, hard surfaced simulated marble flooring under pews and in aisles for increased reverberance, and a re-organized choir/music loft with safety railings and space for instrumentalists.

The old organ suffered from the effects of deteriorated leathers, a failing electrical system, and damaged pipe-work. The “new” organ retains the historic casework, some of the older façade pipes, and many restored interior ranks. The remaining façade pipes have been built to blend with the historic façade, and new, durable slider windchests, solid-state electrical systems, and a movable draw-knob console have also been provided.

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Hope United Church of Christ
St. Louis, Missouri

This handsome building contained an excessive amount of sound absorbing material in the form of fully carpeted floors and a “celotex” ceiling deck. The choir and aging electronic organ console were located in a sound restrictive side transept, with the organ speakers in chambers flanking the altar.

Our goals were to enliven the room for worship participation and music, bring choir and organ together in an appropriate location, and to design a durable, artistic instrument. Carpets have been largely replaced with hardwood flooring. The ceiling is now sound reflective, and choir and organ are together on the central axis of the room. The modest size, yet world-class Harrison & Harrison organ speaks from new cases where the former speaker chambers had been.

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St. Catherine Episcopal Church
Temple Terrace, Florida

We had the welcome opportunity to design both the architectural/acoustical environment and the new organ for this vibrant congregation. The traditional long and tall geometric form, marble and ceramic tile flooring, and hardened splayed walls and ceiling all combine to result in a 2.0 Second reverberation period that supports liturgical worship. The modest size Sipe organ, with select duplex stops, fills the room from the central axis position in the Chancel.

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St. James Episcopal Church
Hendersonville, North Carolina

The previous chancel design of this church featured an organ buried in deep chambers. With the renovation of the sanctuary, the opportunity was available to improve the organ’s location. The altar and pulpit were moved closer to the congregation, and a new choir seating area was created. The organ is now located in shallow chambers and matching casework on either side of the chancel.

The acoustic problems of this church were addressed in a unique manner. Through cooperation with the architect and contractor, the structure of the ceiling was made more reflective and dense through the use of a special expandable insulation. New slate flooring was also installed. The result is a space that is excellent in its support of liturgical participation and the grand “English Cathedral” sound of the Harrison & Harrison Organ.

From the Harrison & Harrison Organ Company:

The city of Hendersonville is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, 100 miles west of Charlotte. St James's Episcopal Church was dedicated in 1863, and has been enlarged several times since then, in the English Gothic style. It is a lofty building with seats for 250. The most recent work in the church included a remarkable improvement in the acoustics, under the guidance of the consultant Scott Riedel.

The two matching oak cases, bracketed out on either side of the chancel, were designed by Didier Grassin, suitably echoing the nineteenth-century work of the English designer and organbuilder Dr Arthur Hill. The south case contains the enclosed Choir Organ; the remainder is all within the north case, including the copper Orchestral Trumpet on 10-inch wind pressure.
The organ is as expressive as it is eye-catching. In many ways it is typical of Harrison Romantic instruments: for example, the Swell and pedal chorus reeds have English closed shallots and are voiced on 6-inch wind pressure.

The organ has 44 stops on three manuals; the console is detached and mobile. Electro- pneumatic action is accompanied by traditional slider chests and reservoirs.

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St. Peter’s United Church of Christ
Kiel, Wisconsin

St. Peter’s United Church of Christ is a building of worthwhile size and proportion but certain features compromised the acoustical space. The ceiling was made of sound absorbing acoustical tile and the floor was covered primarily with carpet. A divided chancel choir seating arrangement did not the meet the needs of the church’s various vocal and bell choirs. The previous organ was located in a right side chamber that did not project sound directly into the nave. While much of the pipe work was valuable, the electrical and pneumatic (leather) actions were decaying.

The liturgical and acoustical improvements included an altar, font and pulpit placed closer to the congregation. A new Reuter electric slider organ is placed on the long axis of the room. The organ contains a significant number of original pipes restored from the previous instrument. The new music ministry space includes a moveable drawknob organ console and risers large enough to accommodate bell tables. Reverberation was increased in the room by replacing the original carpeting with genuine Jerusalem limestone, and by adding a plaster ceiling finish. A sound system was installed to accommodate the revised room.

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Organ and Sound System Consultation

Christ Church, Episcopal
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

This traditional English Gothic structure has inherently: excellent acoustics; the room is long, tall, and narrow, with no sound absorbing materials. The organ chamber is behind the altar and carved wood reredos, at the end of the long axis of the room. An aging, “used” pipe organ formerly occupied the chamber, which was enlarged, and finished with triple layers of sound reflective gypsum board walls and ceiling. Additional tone openings were created, and detailed with working façade pipes. The central speaker cluster and supplemental speakers (serving the side seating spaces) project clear, intelligible speech throughout the room.

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Organ Consultation

Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This historic church on the upper east side of Milwaukee is blessed with an architectural design that lends itself well to music. Hard surfaces abound, and space for music was plentiful in the balcony. The previous instrument spoke down the long axis of the room, and this position was maintained in the new instrument built by Robert Sipe, of Dallas Texas.

The old instrument was suffering from mechanical deterioration, and the overall tonal design was less than grand. The church desired an instrument that would have greater reliability and longevity, and one that would also lead the liturgy with greater musical expression. The new organ actually has fewer ranks than the previous organ, but far surpasses it in the range of expression and color in its tonal palate.

Many ranks of the previous instrument were recycled, reconditioned, and revoiced by Sipe for inclusion in this instrument. The case of the organ was designed to balance the visual concept of the main altar. The key action is mechanical with electric stop controls, and features a detached console.

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Immanuel United Church of Christ
West Bend, Wisconsin


The Glück pipe organ is "new" regarding the tonal design, voicing, and scaling, as well as having all new infrastructure, wind-chests, actions, winding, and console systems. The restored heritage portions of the instrument are the best of the pipes from the previous organ, supplemented with some new ranks.

The former challenges of the disposition of Immanuel's organ included its installation in chambers without balanced heat or air conditioning, and without any thermal insulation within the chamber's walls. The blower received supply air from an unheated and un-insulated attic space as well. Due to these climate issues, tuning was never reliable, and components were compromised and decaying. Maintenance problems were compounded by the fact that the organ's wind-chests were double-decked and inaccessible within the too-small chamber. The organ did contain some fine heritage pipes made by the Milwaukee firm of J.B. Meyer; these pipes were given little tonal regulation at their initial installation, however.

The new instrument is installed into rebuilt, insulated, and climate controlled chambers. A silent blower is also located within the chamber, along with fully accessible wind-chests and pipe-work. Portions of the Great division are located outside the chamber as a façade to facilitate good tonal projection and access. The tonal style is now American Classic. The two manual and pedal movable console has tablet stop controls and a multi-level combination action. Wind chest actions are electro-pneumatic with some unit chests. The Chancel's carpeted floor surface was replaced with wood laminate to improve the acoustic tone of both choir and organ.

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St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church
Two Rivers, Wisconsin


The new worship space for this parish was built to accommodate the large new congregation that resulted from a merger of multiple smaller parishes. The new Robert L. Sipe organ, of electric slider and unit action, is located within two chambers flanking the altar space. The large choir sits near the “Swell” chamber to facilitate accompaniment, and the movable console allows flexible use of the organ and the choir space. 

 

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