Russell and Company, Organ Builders, located in Cambridgeport, Vermont was founded in 1976 at first serving tuning and maintenance needs, but expanding its facilities in 1978 to include the building of new pipe organs. In 1980, they moved to larger facilities, and by 1987, the company had outgrown its space requiring the construction of a new 5,600 square foot facility which includes an assemblyroom with a 35-foot ceiling.

In addition to the production of fine pipe organs, Russell and Company also manufactures organ pipes, consoles and windchests which it supplies to the trade. Their customers include many of the finest companies, and Russell pipework in included in such notable instruments as the Crystal Cathedral, Second Baptist Church, Houston; the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and the Cathedral ofFunchal, Madeira, Portugal. The company's founder and director, Stephen J. Russell, received his education at RPI and Westminster Choir College. After graduation, he apprenticed under Timen Koelewijn, noted Dutch-American pipe maker and organ builder. In 1980, Koelewijn retired, later selling his business to Russell. This brought the move to Vermont and a greater emphasis on new organconstruction.

Since 1980, the company has enjoyed controlled but constant growth due to the consistently high quality of the workmanship and Mr. Russell's painstaking attention to the fine points of tonal design and finishing.




By Susan Green
Free Press Correspondent

The largest pipe organ in Vermont will make its debut at the First Congregational Church in Burlington on Sunday about 145 years after instrumental music first rang out in the South Winooski A venue church.

In 1854, a mid-19th century congregation paid a mere $2,000 to hear the heavenly notes of a Simmons Pipe Organ. For the contemporary version, custom built by Stephen Russell and Co. of Brattleboro, members of the church have pledged $400,000.

"This congregation loves music," said the Rev. Adrian Carr. "We balance the cost with a commitment to our mission. We hope we can do more than feed and clothe people."

Director of music Nancy Osborne, the church's organist, added, "We're also nurturing their spirits." With 4,158 pipes of various sizes - from no bigger than a pencil to 16 feet high - the new organ might be able to deliver significant spiritual nurturing. Russell said that, other than a few electrical components, each piece of the instrument is handmade.

"It's an enduring physical legacy for every generation - like the church building itself," suggested David Gordon, the South Vernon cabinetmaker who has reconstructed the chamber that holds most of those pipes and the facade in front of it.

The 1842 Greek Revival structure now boasts an organ, more than two years in the making, that is not encased in a single cabinet. Instead, it is built into the walls in separate parts of the chapel. The smaller section, above and behind the pulpit, was completed more than a year ago.

The larger section is at the back of the room in the balcony, behind a three-keyboard console with wooden foot pedals and 69 stops that can produce a variety of sounds. "You can compare this organ to an orchestra; it provides 69 individual voices that can be combined In different ways," Russell said. "This is a fantastic instrument that's extremely versatile."

When Osborne played a snippet of "Two Preludes for Organ" by C. V. Stanford- the piece she will open with during Sunday morning's service - music reminiscent of flutes and reed instruments filled the room. "It's well suited to all types of organ literature, from early Renaissance to contemporary, French romantic style to baroque," she said. "It's very exciting." Gordon said Russell's organs are "very rational. He's a gifted tonal architect."

The previous 47-pipe organ, in place since 1952, was a mechanical-action, factory- produced and deteriorating device made by Estey, a Brattleboro company that went out of business four years later. "The sound was fuzzy, windy, indistinct and nasty," Russell said. "To be blunt, it had an awful sound," Osborne said. "The pitch wavered quite a bit. It was loud and obnoxious to the ears."

Church organs
A history of organs at the First Congregational Church:
. 1854: Simmons Pipe Organ
. 1889: Woodbury & Harris Pipe Organ
. 1934: Hammond Electric Organ
. 1948: Baldwin Electric Organ
. 1952: Estey Pipe Organ
. 1998: Russell & Co. Pipe Organ

Organ concert
The new organ will be celebrated with a free concert.
. WHAT: "Hornpipes: Concert for Trumpet and Organ"
. WHO: David Pettit on organ and Alan Siebert on trumpet
. WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
. WHERE: First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington

An old sound is new
again at G'Shepherd

By Diane Webber
The Bay Ridge Paper

Anyone walking by Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd during a Sunday morning service will hear a sound that is approximately 300 years old.

That is how long mechanically-operated pipe organs have been around, and Good Shepherd, on Fourth Avenue and 74th Street, had one of them installed at last month.

Called "mechanical" because each key is a lever attached to a piston which physically pushes air through the pipe to create the sound, the type of organ at Good Shepherd is increasingly rare. Mechanical organs have largely been replaced by electronic organs.

"The difference between a mechanical pipe organ and an electronic organ is like the difference between a live orchestra and a recording," said Good Shepherd musical director and organist Pedro D' Aquino. "With a mechanical organ the sound is very live, very present -present on the air itself. The best an electronic instrument can do is imitate that sound.

"With this instrument the music of the 17th and 18th centuries can be heard the way it was meant to sound," D'Aquino said.

The organ, with more than 1,200 pipes, took about a year for the Vermont-based Russell and Company to build, and it took four workers from the company eight days —15-hour days—to install it.

Quality does not come cheaply: the church raised $250,000 to pay for the new organ.

Good Shepherd, founded in 1906, originally had a pipe organ of this type. Over the years, as it fell into disrepair, it became too expensive to maintain and was replaced by electronic instruments.

The company that built the Good Shepherd organ, Russell and Company, began as an organ repair service, providing replacement parts for existing organs. But increasingly, churches were in positions similar to Good Shepherd: the old organs were becoming "too far gone" to repair or had long ago been trashed.

Good Shepherd's is the 28th organ to be built by Russell and Company. The organ was dedicated and blessed by Good Shepherd's pastor Reverend Richard Pankow during a ceremony on May 29. Will Headlee, a guest musician, played the organ in the first recital, given later that same day.

In South Salem, a Pipe Organ Worthy of Bach

November 27, 1994
Westchester Weekly - The New York Times

It might be called the Jessye Norman of pipe organs, custom-designed and fitted and possessed of a powerful pair of lungs. But Its builder, Stephen J. Russell simply called the organ his Opus 27 as he supervised its recent Installation at the South Salem Presbyterian Church here.

Organ experts talk in human terms about their Instrument. Organs have voices, their pipes have lips, ears, feet and toes, they inhabit rooms of their own. Or, as the organist Robert Fertitta pointed out one recent morning here, the organ room Is the Instrument, because the chamber Is filled with the pipes and wind mechanisms that produce sound.

Mr. Fertitta, music director of the church, was nearly bursting with excitement as he worked alongside Mr. Russell and his crew. The organ builder, president of Russell & Company of Cambridgeport, Vt., had spent more than four months making the instrument for the church. It was rare, Mr. Fertitta said, for a hamlet like South Salem to acquire the grand dame of musical Instruments, let alone one specially made by a fine craftsman. He predicted that the new pipe organ would attract musicians from far and wide.

The 225-member congregation began Its organ drive two years ago, ra/ising more than $120,000 to replace its electroniC organ with a new instrument and renovate the 20-year-old white clapboard church. A balcony of pews was ripped out and a new enclosure built; the floor of the organ room was strengthened to prevent vibration, and electrical work was done.

Cut into the new wall high above the chancel, where a workman was now installing some of the organ's 1,192 pipes, were rectangular openings that marked the instrument's facade. Unseen behind this simple face, an elaborate mechanism would produce music, as organs had done for 1,000 years. Bach was said to test what he called "the lungs" of every new organ he played. Now, as the week-long installation here neared its end, Mr. Russell began the painstaking job of tuning the new instrument and testing its lungs. "Each pipe is indIvidually adjusted for volume, tone quality and articulation," he said "Each pipe has its own unique shape, which determines tone." He was seated at a console in the sanctuary, shouting instructions to workers up in the organ chamber.

"That's slow and a hair soft." he said as he played one pitch. "A little more drive, please, a little more wind" Another pitch had a different problem. "That has a bright sizzle in it," he said, "and it's a hair loud" if the adjustments sounded like the efforts of a bad flute or recorder player, it was because organ pipes are constructed like recorders, Mr. Russell said. But the longest pipe of the South Salem organ is eight feet long, while the working length of the shortest pipe is one quarter inch and approaches the sound of a dog whistle. As in most contemporary organs, this one receives wind by means of an electrically driven blower; holes In the "toe" or bottom of each pipe allow the air in. If a particular pitch is not desired, the air hole is covered or stopped; hence the expression "pull out the stops" in organ parlance.

The county's newest organ, with 20 ranks - or sets - of pipes, is of medium size compared with some others in the county. Mr. Fertitta said the organ in the Rye Presbyterian Church, with 68 ranks, is the county's largest. Mr. Fertitta often plays the world's largest movable organ, the 59-rank Flentrop pipe organ owned by Purchase College. He dresses up like Bach to play the Flentrop for schoolchildren and has performed the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony on it with the Westchester Philharmonic.

Mr. Fertitta, an associate professor of music at Purchase College and director of the Sacred Music Program there, has also performed with the Philharmonia Virtuosi and the Westchester Symphony. He is a seasoned recitalist and accompanist who has played at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Columbia University. He deserves a fine Instrument, said George VanMarter, a member of the congregation and choir at the South Salem Presbyterian Church.

Mr. VanMarter said it was "a financial stretch" for the congregation to buy the organ but that a good instrument was necessary "to bring in people of the quality of Robert Fertltta." He said he hopes the new organ "would be enjoyed for many generations to come."

Mr. Fertitta, meanwhile, was gleefully ready to dismantle the old electronic organ that he had played since coming to the church a year ago.

"It's shot, just about dead" he said, pulling the plug on the pipeless console. While the old Instrument produced a sound with "transistors, electrodes and speakers:' he said, the pipe organ "creates sound with air, and you can feel it" He added: "It has a wonderful way of combining with the human voice because that, too, is wind. An electronic organ is just like turning on a stereo."

Mr. Fertitta and the organists Anthony and Mary Jane Newman will present a free concert to dedicate the new organ In the 350-seat church next Sunday at 4 P.M.   Ms. Newman is a former music director of the, church, and her husband helped design the organ. The concert will feature the music of Bach, Handel, and Brahms.

"Three concerts will follow," Mr. , Fertitta said.  On Dec. 11 at 4 P.M., Harold Rosenbaum will lead the Cantlcum Novum Singers In a Christmas concert, with Mr. Fertitta at the organ. Tickets are $10.

On April 21 at 8 P.M., Mr. Fertitta will be joined by a brass ensemble, and on May 21 at 4 P.M. the church choir will present Its spring concert. Mr. Fertitta will conduct and play the organ In a program combining classical works with show music. Ticket prices will be announced. For further Information, Including directions to the church, at 111 Spring Street, the number to call Is 763.9282. .

Larry Nevin, an organ builder, checks the "voicing" of a pipe by blowing into it. Stephen Russell of Russell & Company, a Vermont organ maker, hammers in rack pins, which will support a group of pipes.

Creating sound with air, not electrodes.

  St. James' Church, Episcopal, Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  
2/12 electric action.
  Christ Church, Episcopal, Bethany, Connecticut.   
2/18 electric action.
  First Church of Christ, Wethersfield, Connecticut.
1972 Austin Organ. Tonal revisions of Positiv division and general revoicing of instrument.

National Cathedral, R.C., Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
Organ used for Madeira Bach Festival. Mechanical restoration, tonal changes and additions to W. A. Samuel organ (1890).

  Trinity Church, Episcopal, Wethersfield, Connecticut.
2/23 electric action.

The Presbyterian Church, Pleasantville, New York.
2/17 electric action.

  St. Andrew's Church, Episcopal, Stamford, Connecticut.
New Swell division 11 ranks, electric action.
  Immanual Church, Episcopal, Bellows Falls, Vermont.
1/3 Portable mechanical action instrument (mechanical action shop project, donated to church).
  United Church, Bellows Fall, Vermont.
2/15 mechanical action. Restoration and new case, Hutchings, Plaisted & Co. organ (1883).

St. Raphael's Church, R.C., Williamstown, Massachusetts.
2/12 electric action.

  Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
2/16 mechanical action.
  St. Thomas the Apostle Church, R. C., Elkhart, Indiana.
2/26 mechanical action.

St. Luke's Parish, Episcopal, New Haven, Connecticut.
3/29 mechanical action.

  Centre Congregational Church, Brattleboro, Vermont.
3/48 electric action.
  St. Mary of the Assumption Church, R.C., Cheshire, Massachusetts.
2/15 electric action.

St. Michael's Lutheran Church, New Canaan, Connecticut.
2/25 electric action.

  St. Monica's Church, R.C., Barre, Vermont.
4/89 electro-pneumatic Hutchings-Votey organ (1908), rebuilt and enlarged in 1964, relocated from First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Removal, transportation, cleaning and reinstallation with necessary repairs. Approximately 30 ranks playable on Great, Swell, and Pedal divisions. Job on hold due to lack of funds to complete the project.

Assumption College Chapel, R.C., Worcester, Massachusetts.
3/56 electric action. Rebuild with additions of 2/23 Wicks organ. New casework, new windchests, most Wicks pipework replaced. Complete tonal redesign. Instrument completed 1995.

  St. Elizabeth's Church, R.C., Lyndonville, Vermont.
2/12 mechanical action. Restoration of instrument, builder unknown, possibly Frank Beman.

Faith Lutheran Church, Chico, California.
2/17 mechanical action.

  St. James' R.C. Church, Setauket, New York.
2/23 electric action. Relocate, redesign and revoice 2/10 Gress-Miles organ. Addition of new Swell division 13 ranks.

St. Stephen's Church, Episcopal, Middlebury, Vermont.
2/16 mechanical action. Mechanical and tonal restoration of Johnson & Son organ (1875).


Production of organ windchests, console rebuild and pipework for L. Nevin & Assoc., Westminster, Vermont.
2/24 electro-pneumatic action. Organ for the Unitarian Church, Keene, New Hampshire.

  Production of pipe organ for L. Nevin & Assoc., Westminster, Vermont.
3/26 electric action.
Organ for Ridgewood Reformed Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey.
  Nancy Campbell Reed residence, Newfane, Vermont. 
2/5 electric action. Moveable chamber/studio organ.
  Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, R.C., Rutland, Vermont.
2/27 electric action.
  Mt Kisco Presbyterian Church, Mt. Kisco, New York. 
3/32 electric-slider action. Rebuilding, revoicing and additions to Berkshire organ.
  Middlebury Congregational Church, Middlebury, Vermont.
2/31 electro-pneumatic action. Revoicing, additions and repairs to much altered Wm. A. Johnson organ (1862).
  Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Brooklyn, New York.
2/25 mechanical key action, electric stop action.
  South Salem Presbyterian Church, South Salem, New York.  
2/19 electric action.
  St. Matthew's Church, Episcopal, Bedford, New York.
2/29 electric action.
  United Methodist Church of Plattsburgh, New York. 
2/33 electric-slider action organ
  First Baptist Church, Burlington, Vermont.  
2/19 mechanical action. Restoration of 1864 E. & G.G. Hook organ.


  First Congregational Church, Burlington, Vermont.  
2/19 electric action. Chancel Organ.
  First Baptist Church, Worcester, Massachusetts.
New Four-Manual Skinner-style drawknob console, with new organ relays and complete rewiring of Reuter/Gilbert organ. Walker Technical Services digital electronic voices added.
  First Congregational Church, Burlington, Vermont.
3/50 electric-slider action. Gallery organ using eight ranks of select pipework from existing Estey organ, otherwise new or rebuilt pipes to complete Opus 34.
  St. Matthew's Church, Episcopal, Bedford, New York.  
New French terrace console to complete Opus 31
  Production of pipe organ chests, pipes and swell enclosures for L. Nevin & Assoc., Westminster, Vermont. Organ for church in Ramsey, New Jersey.
  Production of new console, Antiphonal organ chests and pipework for L. Nevin & Assoc., Langdon, New Hampshire. Organ for Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

University United Methodist Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
New Console, New organ relays, digital tonal additions to 1979 Möller organ.

  Cathedral of St. Paul, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Gallery Organ 3/62, Chancel organ 2/14. Rebuilding and expansion of cathedral organ. Electro-pneumatic and direct electric action., Two, matching, three manual Cavaille-Coll amphitheatre consoles.
  St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, R.C., Melville, New York.
3/29 Electric Action
Third Manual for prepared Choir division of 10 ranks.
  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rutland, Vermont.
Six ranks added to
Opus 26
  Unitarian Universalist Church, Provincetown, Massachusetts.
2/18 mechanical action. Restoration of historic 1850 Holbrook organ with historically sensitive additions.

Memorial Methodist Church, Taunton, Massachusetts.
2/21 electric Action.

  Grace Church, Episcopal, Newington, Connecticut.
2/16 Electric Action.
  First Unitarian Church, Worcester, MA.
4/67 Electro-pneumatic action. Rebuilding of 1964 Aeolian-Skinner 4/60, following severe water damage. Work included construction of new Aeolian-Skinner style pitman windchests, layout changes to improve tonal egress, modification of console and 7 additional ranks to match Aeolian-Skinner pipework.
  All Saints Church, Episcopal, South Burlington, Vermont
2/8 mechanical action. Restoration of 2/7 Hook & Hastings (1895). Restore tonal scheme to original and addition of one stop to Great division.
  Our Lady of Seven Dolors, R.C., Fair Haven, Vermont
2/23 mechanical action. Restoration of 1856
E. & G. G. Hook organ Opus 205. Instrument relocated from Universalists of Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1893.
  Christ Church, Episcopal, Bethany, Connecticut.
2/20 electric action. Complete tonal reorientation and additions to Opus 2 with new console and organ case.

First Presbyterian Church, Ithaca, New York.
4/84 electro-pneumatic action.