Almost Finished

As work on our sanctuary has now finished except for some punch-list items, and the installation of the Schoenstein organ nears completion, I realize that I have not added a new post in a few weeks.  Here are some updates:

  • We moved back into our sanctuary last Sunday (September 13).  It was a glorious day with our Chancel Choir, brass quartet and timpani.  Everyone was thrilled to be back “home.”
  • The installation of the organ is nearly complete.  Tonal finishing of the flues began on Monday and will last through this coming week.  After a break of two weeks, the reeds will be finished and then the organ should be ready to use.
  • Our commissioned organ work, Partita on “Nun Danket Alle Gott” by Craig Phillips has arrived and has been forwarded to Scott Dettra, who will play the dedicatory recital on March 6, 2016.
  • The St. Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will meet at Ladue Chapel on Monday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m.  Jack Bethards, President of Schoenstein & Co., and Louis Patterson, Plant Superintendent and Vice President will present the program discussing the Schoenstein tonal philosophy and the evolution of the Ladue Chapel project.  The public is invited to attend.
  • Sanctuary ready for worship on September 13, 2015

    Sanctuary ready for worship on September 13, 2015

     

Renovated sanctuary

A sad note to these festivities is that a beloved member of our Organ Committee, Virginia Trent, died unexpectedly last month.  Her memorial service was held yesterday at Ladue Chapel.  Enough of the organ was playable that Schoenstein & Co. gave their permission for me to play one piece on the organ.  This was a fitting tribute to Virginia, who was herself an organist, and I am grateful to Schoenstein for making this possible.

I played the Brahms “O Welt ich muss dich lassen,” (“O World, I Now Must Leave Thee”), the setting with the echoes.  Not only was this appropriate, but since I had played it on the last Sunday we heard the old organ, I liked the symmetry of it being the first piece heard on the new organ.

Just what is “Tonal Finishing?”

People keep asking why it takes so long to tune the new organ.  My answer is that they are not tuning the organ, but are doing the tonal finishing.   Here is an attempt at a brief explanation of tonal finishing:

During tonal finishing, each pipe (all 2,716 of them) is made to be comfortable in its new home. Minute adjustments are made by hand so that each pipe projects optimally, and so that each pipe matches perfectly with the others in its rank (set of pipes), creating a homogenous sound. This is accomplished—deliberately and carefully—by manipulating various parts of the pipe: the toe, the windway, the languid, the upper lip. Some pipes are naturally comfortable, and some are finicky and require a bit of cajoling to produce their optimal sound. This process requires two people and is quite labor intensive. One person works up in the chamber at the pipes, and the other person sits at the console to hold keys and to listen to how the pipes sound in the sanctuary. So that every nuance of each pipe’s speech can be heard, it is essential that there is absolute silence in the sanctuary. During these two weeks, Jack Bethards (president of Schoenstein & Co.), and Mark Hotsenpiller (Head Voicer) are here working on the flue pipes. Later in October they will be back to do this same process with the reed pipes and to put the finishing touches on the organ. And then the organ will be ready for us to use and enjoy!

Finally, for a before-and-after comparison, a photo of the sanctuary on Easter Day, 2015:

Easter Day 2015:  last Sunday in the pre-renovated sanctuary.

Easter Day 2015: last Sunday in the pre-renovated sanctuary.

Installation: Day 13

Installation continues smoothly and on schedule.  At this point, the framing is all complete, the chests are installed, some bass pipes have been installed, and the blower has been tested.  Now the Schoenstein crew is working on wiring from the chests to the relays.

The big excitement for today is that the casework and choir chairs arrived from New Holland, Pennsylvania.  A crew from New Holland is installing the casework.  Here are some photos taken this morning.

Some pieces of the casework laid out on the pews.

Some pieces of the casework laid out on the pews.

closeup of casework on pews chancel with casework

This piece is the base of the East case, weighing 800 pounds.  There is an identical one on the West side.  You can also see that the console was moved into the chancel last week.

This piece is the base of the East case, weighing 800 pounds. There is an identical one on the West side. Notice the console which was moved into the chancel last week.

case base in place

Amazingly, the crew has already put the bases in place!

These are the decorative corbels that go on the support beams under the cases.

These are the decorative corbels that go on the support beams under the cases.

Another view of corbels.  These pick up on architectural motifs found in other parts of the sanctuary (lectern, exterior).

Another view of corbels. These pick up on architectural motifs found in other parts of the sanctuary (lectern, exterior).

Our beautiful new choir chairs were also constructed by New Holland.  Their wood tone matches the nave pews, and they have rush seats.

Our beautiful new choir chairs were also constructed by New Holland. Their wood tone matches the nave pews, and they have rush seats.

Another view of choir chairs.  The red is protective material separating the chairs.

Another view of choir chairs. The red is protective material separating the chairs.

This is a view standing the the East hallway and looking directly up into the Swell chamber, with the bottom pipes of the 32' reed reaching to the ceiling.

This is a view standing the the East hallway and looking directly up into the Swell chamber, with the bottom pipes of the 32′ reed reaching to the ceiling.

Installation: Day 3

Wednesday, August 12, 2013

Much work had been accomplished by the end of day 3.  After placing the 16′ Open Wood in its home behind the choir loft, work commenced in the Great and Choir chambers (West side of chancel).  Framing goes up first, followed by the wind chests, and then pipes are placed.  They work from back to front and put in the larger pipes first.

Here are the bottom pipes of the 16' Bass Tuba in the Choir division (situated on the North wall of the chamber.)

Here are the bottom pipes of the 16′ Bass Tuba in the Choir division (situated on the North wall of the chamber.

Next are the bottom pipes of the 16′ Contra Salicional in the back of the Great Chamber:

Contra Salicional basses

 

Later this afternoon came another delivery:  the display pipes and the bottom octave of the 32′ Contra Fagotto.  The display pipes are the pipes that are in the front of each case, and will actually be seen.  Shown below are some of the Great 8′ First Open Diapason.  (The pipes are wrapped in protective covering, but are made of polished zinc.)Display pipes in narthex

We’ve all been waiting to see the 32′ pipe, and we weren’t disappointed.  The lowest pipe of this set is literally 32′ long, but is bent around and mitered much like an orchestral trombone or French horn.  Only the lowest C pipe is 32′ long; the others are proportionally shorter.  The reed (which is actually made of brass) sits in the little box called the “boot.”  The reed vibrates much like the reed on a clarinet, and the pipe acts as a resonator to project the sound.

32' C closeup

The boot of the low C pipe.  The brass reed is inside this box, and the pipe will sit on top of  the box.

The boot of the low C pipe. The brass reed is inside this box, and the pipe will sit on top of the box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the members of the talented and hardworking Schoenstein installation crew:

Shown hard at work are the members of the Schoenstein installation crew:  Louis Patterson, Chris Hansford, Chet Spencer (on ladder), and Mark Hotsenpiller (in chamber)

Shown hard at work are the members of the Schoenstein installation crew: Louis Patterson, Chris Hansford, Chet Spencer (on ladder), and Mark Hotsenpiller (in chamber)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, here are some photo of unloading day, taken by parishioner Nancy O’Brien:

Truck in front of church

Carrying windline from truck

 

 

Dieter, David, Mel and JanetLiz and JeanneJane with pipeWalter and MarthaMic and DavidJeanne and DougGroup on sidewalkInside viewMark and LouieGroup on sidewalk 2

Installation: Day One

Our delivery date of August 10 was finally here!  The organ had arrived in its truck on Sunday afternoon, and the driver spent the night in our parking lot.  There was a big storm overnight, but on Monday morning it was merely cloudy and humid.

The first item of the day was to prepare the sanctuary.  All of our refinished and repainted pews had to be covered with blankets to protect the tops from the parts that would be stored on them temporarily.

Pews covered in blanketsIn addition to the Schoenstein crew of 4 and BSI Contractors crew of 6, about 30 Ladue Chapelites showed up to watch and help.  Work went efficiently and quickly, thanks to the organization provided by Schoenstein, and the hard work provided by BSI and Ladue Chapel.  I think I can speak for all of us involved by saying it was amazing to see the number of parts that filled up the sanctuary, and that it was fun for us to be part of this special day.

This shows many of the organ parts laid out on the pews.  Most of the pipes are in trays out of sight.

This shows many of the organ parts laid out on the pews. Most of the pipes are in trays out of sight.

It’s actually more organized than it looks, as each part has a colored sticker indicating where it should be placed.

After the reading of Psalm 150 and a prayer led by Rev. Mel Smith, everyone jumped in to carry small and not-so-small parts.

Liz and Gretchen Martha Sharon and Ralph Jeanne Wilton

An important part was moving the console from the truck, up the front steps and into the narthex.  This required the participation of all the pros!

Moving console out of truck

Moving console up the front steps.

Moving console up the front steps.

Console at front door

After the helpers departed, one of the first items of business was to put the enormous Open Wood pipes (made of poplar) into their new home behind the choir loft.

Lowering open wood

Open wood in placeThe Open Wood pipes in their new home behind the choir, at the end of Day 1.
Mic Sandage

Vicki and Doug

One Full Truck

Today we received word that 53′ truck loaded with Opus 167 is on its way to Ladue!

Truck containing Opus 167 packed and ready to leave for St. Louis!

Truck containing Opus 167 packed and ready to leave for St. Louis!  It’s hard to believe they were able to fit all of that organ in one truck!

The truck and crew will arrive on Sunday, ready to unload and begin installation early Monday morning!

I’m relieved to report that everything is ready at this end for Schoenstein’s arrival.  Here is the latest view of the sanctuary.

The sanctuary nearing completion!

The sanctuary nearing completion!

July Progress Report – II

We just received these photos from Schoenstein, showing the organ now being disassembled and readied for shipment to St. Louis.  After all these months of seeing photos of the organ being assembled, it seems odd to see it being taken down, doesn’t it?

The pipes have all been carefully packed and placed in these boxes (called trays) and are awaiting shipment.

The pipes have all been carefully packed and placed in these boxes (called trays) and are awaiting shipmen

The Great and Choir divisions have been emptied out and taken down.

The Great and Choir divisions have been emptied out and taken down.

Next week Louis Patterson and Glen Brasel from Schoenstein will be on location at Ladue Chapel to meet with our contractor to make sure that everything is all set at our end for the arrival of the organ.

Here are the latest photos of progress in the sanctuary.  The floor is now finished, and the pews are being reassembled and installed.

Workers reassembling the pews.

Workers reassembling the pews.

View from balcony.  Notice the handsome solid walnut trim on the pews.

View from balcony. Notice the handsome solid walnut trim on the pews.

New pews in balcony

July Progress Report

WordPress informs meet that this is the 41st post I’ve made to this blog since I began last July.  Luckily during that time, all has gone according to schedule with Schoenstein & Co., with the sanctuary renovation, and with our fundraising efforts.  It’s hard to believe that after all these years of dreaming and planning, the organ is scheduled to arrive at Ladue Chapel on August 10!

Here are the latest photos of progress in the sanctuary.  About half of the new Italian tile floor for the nave has been installed, and not only is it quite beautiful, but also the sound of the room has become quite reverberant.

Sorry to be sending out 3 posts in one day, but I’m trying to catch up before leaving on vacation tomorrow!

Here is a photo showing the new floor in the nave.  Notice, too, the warm color of the walls and how nice it looks with the floor color.

West side of Nave, showing new floor.

West side of Nave, showing new floor.

Window showing newly-constructed frame on bottom.

Window showing newly-constructed frame on bottom.

View of the Chancel showing the new wall behind the choir loft, and the new choir risers.  The choir members will sit on individual chairs.

View of the Chancel showing the new wall behind the choir loft, and the new choir risers. The choir members will sit on individual chairs.

The refinished hardwood floor in the balcony has turned out beautifully!

The refinished hardwood floor in the balcony has turned out beautifully!

View from Balcony.

View from Balcony.

Schoenstein by the Numbers

In looking back at previous posts, I found this draft which I had forgotten about.  (I think I had saved it in order to expand on it at a later date, but unfortunately forgot about it!) So, for those who are interested, here are some numerical facts about our new organ.

2716                Number of pipes

2024                Number of miles from workshop in Benicia, CA to Ladue

1877                Year Schoenstein & Co. was established

167                  Opus number for our organ

46                    Number of individual ranks of pipes

32                   Length (in feet) of our longest pipe

15                    Number of different organs the Organ Committee visited in the selection process

13                    Months until arrival of Opus 167 (August 2015)  (That should be updated to 1.5 now!)

4                      Number of expressive divisions of the organ

3                      Number of manuals (keyboards for the hands)

2                      Number of matching cases in the chancel

1                      Number of ranks of pipes retained from the Bosch organ

 

Benicia, Beautiful City by the Bay

Last week several members and friends of the Organ Committee journeyed to the Schoenstein & Co. workshop in Benicia, CA to meet Opus 167, our new pipe organ.  it was quite a privlege for us to get to hear and play the organ, and to meet many of the artisans who were involved in crafting the organ.

Looking very happy after hearing Opus 167 for the first time are Ralph Grimm, Jennifer Grimm, Gretchen Ross, Mark Scholtz, David Erwin, Douglas Wilton and Jeanne Wilton

Looking very happy after hearing Opus 167 for the first time are Ralph Grimm, Jennifer Grimm, Gretchen Ross, Mark Scholtz, David Erwin, Douglas Wilton and Jeanne Wilton.

On Sunday afternoon, June 28, Schoenstein hosted an open house to introduce Opus 167 to the public.  Over 125 people attended, and they enjoyed taking tours of the shop, listening to the organ, and sampling a variety of refreshments.  In addition to David Erwin, Gretchen Ross and Mark Scholtz, several local organists tried out the instrument.

The organ truly sounds amazing, even in the workshop space, which is quite a different setting from our Ladue Chapel sanctuary.  And while not all of the pipes were playable, we were able to get a good idea of what to expect.  And we were surprised to find out that she even sounds good in theatre organ style!

We were especially interested to meet several of the Schoenstein team who have had a hand in crafting this instrument, and we met several of the crew who will be coming to St. Louis for the installation and tonal finishing.  We even got to meet some Schoenstein family members who are no longer associated with the company, but are still interested in its activites.

The people who were in attendance uniformly praised the instrument, and one prominent West Coast organ technician declared that this is the finest instrument to ever leave the Schoenstein shop.

Organ Committee with Schoenstein staff 1

The Ladue entourage with some of the Schoenstein staff after the Open House. President Jack Bethards is second from left, and engineer Glen Brasel is center of first row.

Below is a pasticcio of photos taken by Ralph Grimm.

Bottom of 16' Bass Tuba

Bottom 6 pipes of the 16′ Bass Tuba.

Back of Choir division

View of rear of Choir division

cloesup of Chime action

View of action for Chimes in the Echo Division. Our existing Chimes (from the church’s original Kilgen organ) will be mounted here.

closeup of Vox Humana

View of Echo Division. The unusual looking set of pipes in the front is the Vox Humana.

Console interior

Rear view showing interior of console.

Console with bench

Closeup of console. Don’t worry; that is not our bench! During the Open House, our bench was safely covered up so that it wouldn’t be scratched or damaged.

Front of Swell Division

Front of Swell Division.

Front of Swell division (2)

View of the front of the Great division.

Interior of Swell

Interior of Swell Division

left stop jamb

Left stop jamb.

Right stop jamb

Right stop jamb

View of organ with Echo in front

A reporter from The Daily Republic was present and wrote an article for  Monday’s edition.  She even got most information correct, although I’m quite certain she misquoted me in one place.  Here is a link to the article if you would like to read more:

http://www.dailyrepublic.com/news/features-local/pipe-organ-destined-for-st-louis-debuts-in-benicia/

 

June Progress Report

I have been out of town for a couple of weeks, and it’s wonderful to see all the progress that has taken place in the sanctuary while I was gone.

Before sharing the latest sanctuary photos, I have this update from Schoenstein (No photos this time, but expect many next week!):

  • Basically the organ is finished!!  It is now being tuned in preparation for our committee’s visit over the weekend.
  • The casework (being made by New Holland) has all been fabricated and is awaiting painting.
    West side of nave showing new paint colors.  The main wall color has turned out to be darker and warmer than I expected, providing a contrast to the white trim.  The pilasters really stand out now!

    West side of nave showing new paint colors. The main wall color has turned out to be darker and warmer than I expected, providing a nice contrast to the white trim. The pilasters really stand out now!

    This shows the framing for the new wall behind the choir.  The 16' Open Wood will lie on the floor behind this wall.

    This shows the framing for the new wall behind the choir. The 16′ Open Wood will lie on the floor behind this wall.

    This shows the framing for the new choir risers.  Notice the curved shape!  The choir will now sit in 4 rows (first row on the main chancel level).

    This shows the framing for the new choir risers. Notice the curved shape! The choir will now sit in 4 rows (first row on the main chancel level).

    West chamber, showing support beams for the cantilevered case.

    West chamber, showing support beams for the cantilevered case.

    Chancel view showing East chamber

    Chancel view showing East chamber

    View of window showing the new acoustical panels.

    View of window showing the new acoustical panels on the South wall, and new coffered ceiling.  Is it my imagination, or does the window seem to be brighter now?

    Latest view of chancel from balcony.

    Latest view of chancel from balcony.

    Sanctuary view from balconyThis view shows the west side of the nave being prepared for the new flooring, which should be installed this week.

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