Cathedral in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a grand, American Gothic
structure, seating 1,200 people. The building has superb acoustics,
with approximately six seconds of reverberation and a even response
throughout the frequency spectrum. In 1997, John Sittard, the newly
appointed Director of Music at St. Paul's, was charged with the task
of overseeing the renovation or replacement of the Cathedral's two
instrument of 49 ranks was a 1952 Casavant rebuild of an earlier Johnson
organ. Casavant provided all new mechanism while retaining most of
the Johnson pipework. Some of the Johnson pipework was rescaled and
additional ranks added in keeping with the tonal thinking of the day.
In general, the existing foundation stops were rescaled to be narrower
while mixture scales were increased. A number of tapered ranks were
added both as foundation stops and as mutations. A new Pedal 16' reed
and Chamade were also added. A low cost organ case, reminiscent of
speaker enclosures, was provided to hide the organ. While adequate
for accompanimental functions, the organ lacked the ability to lead
a large congregation as well as the resources necessary for the performance
of organ literature.
1960's, the Cathedral underwent a number of changes consistent with
the reforms of Vatican II. The choir was brought to the front of the
church and a new Wicks instrument of 13 ranks was installed in the
right front corner of the nave near the choir. A new Wicks console
was provided which was capable of controlling both instruments. The
Wicks instrument, voiced gently in a typical mid 60s neo-baroque style,
was suitable for accompanying a small choir.
In the ensuing
years, both instruments were allowed to deteriorate. Forty-five years
of city air had taken its toll on the Casavant’s organ leathers
and the Wicks console and relays were failing.
At the outset
of the project, a number of goals were articulated:
- The overall
character of the instrument should be inspired by the organs of Cavaille-Coll,
utilizing, so much as possible, existing tonal resources without
compromising the tonal integrity of the finished instrument. In addition
to an overall French Romantic character, the instrument should have
sufficient tonal resources to adequately render music from other
periods as well as fulfilling liturgical and accompanimental roles.
- The instrument
should have a wide dynamic range with lighter choruses suitable for
small congregations, yet be capable of filling the room with sound
when all 1,200 seats are filled.
new consoles with matching control placement in the ‘Amphitheatre’ style
- A new
Gallery casework front should be provided, appropriate to the architecture
of the building.
- All existing
mechanisms to be completely rebuilt or replaced with the finest materials
to insure maximum longevity and trouble free operation. Ideally,
slider and pallet windchests should be provided for the gallery manual
changes should be made to improve tuning stability and service access.
- The chancel
organ should be expanded and revoiced to provide suitable leadership
for congregational singing as well as expanded accompanimental abilities.
description of the work follows.
In the Gallery
organ, the Casavant wind system was retained, with all wind regulators
being releathered and restored as appropriate. The Swell and Choir
pitman chests were releathered with some slight modification for the
revised specifications. New chests were provided for the Plein Jeu
stops in both the Swell and Choir. A new slider and pallet chest was
provided for the Great. New electro-pneumatic wind chests were also
provided for the remaining Great and Pedal unit stops.
direct electric action in the chancel organ was in good condition and
was used with minor modification and new relays. However, new wind
regulators were fitted to the organ to eliminate a severe wind sag
condition. A single new chest for the Plein Jeu was added to the Swell.
Existing pipework in the chancel organ was rearranged, rescaled and
completely revoiced, revealing a beautiful singing quality that was
not evident in the original voicing. A new Principal 8' of proper scale
was added to the Great chorus, along with a new Plein Jeu IV, located
in the Swell but conceived as part of the Great chorus. A pair of medium
scale Johnson strings and the Johnson Oboe was moved from the Gallery
to the chancel.
of pipework in the Gallery organ is either new or has been rebuilt
from existing ranks. A few ranks were revoiced from the best examples
of the pre-existing pipework. The specifications indicate the revoiced
Casavant and Johnson pipework. New consoles and organ casework were
provided as per the design goals.
resulting instrument combines the best work of Johnson, Casavant and
conjunction with our own work to create what is essentially a new instrument,
ready for the task of making magnificent music through the twenty-first