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Texas Pipe Organ Newsarticle

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  • Texas Pipe Organ Newsarticle

    Organ more than a musical pipe dream
    Plano: New instrument adds profound sound to church's repertoire
    12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, April 19, 2006
    By ANNETTE NEVINS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
    The hallelujahs at Easter services this year had never sounded more majestic at Custer Road United Methodist Church, said Kay Sendrey, organist at the Plano church since 1984.

    Photos by BRANDON THIBODEAUX/Special Contributor
    Bradley Hunter Welch, artist in residence and concert organist at Highland Park United Methodist Church, plays Custer Road United Methodist's new $1.2 million pipe organ.
    After playing on a used electronic organ and a piano for 22 years, she is now commanding the keyboards of the church's new $1.2 million pipe organ, one of the largest and most complex organs in the Dallas area.
    The new instrument is so immense that the church's remodeling project included knocking down walls and boring into the ceiling to make room for its 5,284 pipes.
    It has been worth the work, Ms. Sendrey said.
    "The glorious sound it produces is just indescribable," she exclaimed.
    During a recent practice on the main chancel organ, her fingers raced across four manuals, or keyboards, and her feet danced along the pedals, cajoling rich tones from its ranks of pipes lining the walls.
    Two organs in one
    The instrument is actually a double organ. A gallery organ, in a rear loft, contains two manual and pedal divisions. There are 92 ranks of pipes – 75 for the chancel area and 17 for the gallery. The entire organ is playable from either or both consoles.
    Custer Road's four children's choirs dedicated the beautiful, custom-made instrument.
    Glorious organ music resonated through the sanctuary Sunday as bright afternoon sunlight streamed through stained-glass windows. It was a day members of Custer Road United Methodist Church had long awaited.
    When the 26-year-old church moved out of its temporary quarters in the cafeteria of Thomas Elementary School in Plano and constructed its present sanctuary in 1990, space was included to accommodate a pipe organ.
    But financial constraints postponed the organ addition until 2003, when a major renovation began in response to an aging sanctuary and an explosive growth in youth choir members.
    Large, intricate machine
    The pipe organ at Custer Road United Methodist is among the largest and most complex instruments built by Schantz Organ Co. in its 133-year history, requiring more than 25,000 hours of labor for design, construction, installation and tonal finishing, officials said.
    Construction of the instrument began last summer at the company's headquarters in Orville, Ohio, involving 93 craftsmen. After it was built, the organ was disassembled and driven to Plano in three shipments, where it was pieced together.
    Church members gathered in December to help unload the first 18-wheeler carrying some of the first pipes, each hand-rolled from zinc, tin or lead or crafted from yellow poplar wood. The pipes range in size from the length of a pencil to 32 feet long.
    Walls were moved around to build chambers especially for the Great and Swell divisions of the organ. The tuning of each individual pipe required the attention of two two-man teams, or "tonal finishers," on site every weekday during February and March.
    The organ will lead the congregation in song and accompany choirs, and it will also be used for community concerts, said the Rev. Tim Morrison, minister of music at the 7,000-member church. Custer Road hosts concerts for many of the Plano school district choirs and rehearsals for the Plano Community Band, the Plano Civic Chorus and the Dallas Chinese Choral Society.
    Musical medley
    The organ joins the church's other instruments, including strings, brass, woodwinds and a stage band, and it offers church members another way to express their faith, Mr. Morrison said.
    "We are a church of diverse worship styles, and our entire church embraces the organ for the volume and energy it brings to help express our faith in a traditional way," he said
    The church pulled out all the stops to accommodate the new instrument. Carpet was replaced with tile flooring to improve acoustics, and two large drop-down screens were added to make services in the large church more visible.
    With consoles in two locations, growing choirs will have more room to practice, duets can be played and the instrument is able to produce a "surround sound" effect, Ms. Sendrey noted.
    The organ offers a variety of organ tones ranging from the softest whisper to the noble Tuba Mirabilis. Every bride's favorite, the declamatory Trompette en Chamade, which look like trumpets installed on the chancel case, add tonal and visual interest to the organ's sound and design.
    "Since our founding, we have had the tradition of being a singing church, with strong musical accompaniment," Ms. Sendrey said. "We are very excited about all the possibilities our new organ offers."
    Annette Nevins is a Plano-based freelance writer.

  • #2
    Re: Texas Pipe Organ Newsarticle

    I have played this, and I went to the dedication of it. Im really not impressed with the voicing. It sounds way too "Covered". And, the Tuba is not my all time favorite Tuba, it sounds more like a duck to me.


    • #3
      Re: Texas Pipe Organ Newsarticle

      Do you know of any big (or not so big) new instruments going into Ohio? I've not heard of any lately ...


      • #4
        Re: Texas Pipe Organ Newsarticle

        I am a long-time member of First UMC in Richardson, Texas, and my church moved to a new facility last March (2006); we recently consecrated a new Klais instrument at our church last November. I was frankly disappointed at the dedication concerts but I really like the instrument. Have you heard or played it? I would be interested in your opinion of its Tuba 8' stop--we like it. The organ at $1.3M is not finished--there are provisions for several more stops, an Antiphonal Division at the rear of the balcony (4 stops, including a Fanfare Trumpet 8'), and a mechanical action ("tracker") console to be added in the future.