|Great (58 Notes)|
|8'||Open Diapason||58 Pipes|
|8'||Stopped Diapason||58 Pipes|
|8'||Viol d'Amour||46 Pipes|
|4'||Harmonic Flute||58 Pipes|
|Swell (58 Notes)|
|8'||Open Diapason||58 Pipes|
|8'||Stopped Diapason||58 Pipes|
|8'||Keraulophon Celeste||46 Pipes|
|4'||Flauto Traverso||58 Pipes|
|Choir (58 Notes)|
|8'||Geigen Principal||58 Pipes|
|4'||Flute d'Amour||58 Pipes|
|Pedal (32 Notes)|
|16'||Dbl. Open Diapason||32 Pipes|
Andover Opus R-345, at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA was dedicated in October 2012. This was a milestone for several long journeys: the completion of a seven year project for us; the culmination of a decade-long sanctuary renovation process for Christ Church; and the latest chapter in the 143 year odyssey of a resilient New England organ.
It is not unusual for well-made old organs to outlast the buildings or congregations for which they were originally made. The Christ Church organ certainly proves this! The core of the instrument is a three-manual, 29-stop organ built in 1869 by E. & G. G. Hook of Boston, as their Opus 472, and originally installed in Grace Episcopal Church in Chicago, IL. In 1902 it was moved to another Grace Episcopal Church, in Oak Park, IL. In 1922 it was sold to the Third Congregational Church of Oak Park, where it was rebuilt and electrified by Nicholas Doerr of Chicago. The organ was next moved to St. Ludmilla's Catholic Church in Chicago, probably in 1937 when the Third Congregational Church merged with another. When St. Ludmilla's closed in 1991 the organ was put into storage. Andover's Bob Newton, who is a nationally-recognized authority on Hook organs, learned of the organ's availability and purchased it. Opus 472 then made the long journey home to Massachusetts, where it sat in storage, awaiting its fifth home.
Meanwhile, Christ Church in Charlottesville had formed an organ committee to find a replacement for their failing 50-year-old electro-pneumatic organ. That organ had been cobbled together from a variety of used and new parts, and the builder had gone out of business before the organ was finished. Concurrently, plans were begun for a complete renovation of the sanctuary. After much study the committee determined that the best location for the new instrument would be at the front of the church, to speak directly towards the congregation. This was confirmed by each builder that the committee interviewed during the selection process.
Being responsible stewards of the parish's resources, the organ committee also researched the option of installing a rebuilt used organ. They determined that if the original organ was a well-made, quality instrument, the end result could be equal, or in some cases superior, to a new organ - yet at significantly less cost. Our friend John Whiteside, who became Christ Church's Music Director in 2005, contacted us and learned of E. & G. G. Hook Opus 472, which we had in storage. Because this organ had lost its original case, console, structure, action and wind system during its various moves, the surviving Hook pipes and windchests could easily be re-arranged to fit the available space in Christ Church.
The Hook firm was one of 19th Century America's premier organ builders. Their instruments, which were highly regarded for their mechanical and tonal excellence, were designed and voiced to work well in the dry acoustics of American churches. Moreover, Opus 472 dated from the "golden period" of the firm's instruments. After careful deliberation, the committee recommended that the church purchase and install Hook Opus 472 - which would be completely renovated, rebuilt and enlarged by us - at the front of the church surrounding the rose window. This proposal was approved by the church's Vestry and on April 25, 2005 a contract was signed.
The work started in 2007, under the direction of Project Team Leader Ben Mague. The Hook pipes were restored and the windchests were enlarged to accommodate additional stops. Ben and Michael Eaton engineered a new console, structure, action and wind system to fit the renovated chancel area. Don Olson designed the new casework, in consultation with noted church architect Terry Eason, who prepared the plans for the sanctuary renovation.
While this work was under way, Christ Church's rector departed for another parish. The church postponed the fundraising for the sanctuary renovations and focused its attention on finding a new rector. However, during this period a parish donor continued to fund the organ's rebuilding so the project would not loose momentum. The completed instrument was unveiled at an open house at our shop on November 6, 2010. But though the organ was ready, the church was not. Bids had not yet been received for the chancel renovations. It was discovered that part of a rock ledge beneath the chancel would have to be removed to permit excavation for a basement to house HVAC equipment and the organ blower. This increased the scope of the project.
The organ sat, playable, in our shop until May of 2011 when, needing that space for other projects, we shipped it to Charlottesville and stored it in the church parish hall. The chancel renovations were finally begun in the fall of that year and nearly finished when we started the organ's installation in January 2012. Parts of the organ were ready by Easter, when it was first used. The remaining flues, and all the reeds, were installed and regulated during the following months. On Friday evening, October 5, 2012, organist Bruce Stevens played the dedicatory recital to a large and excited congregation. It was the happy ending to a long road!
Those who worked on Opus R-345 were Matthew Bellocchio, Ryan Bartosiewicz, Anne Doré, Michael Eaton, Don Glover, Al Hosman, Lisa Lucius, Ben Mague, Tony Miscio, Fay Morlock, John Morlock, Robert Newton, Don Olson, Jonathan Ross, Craig Seaman, and David Zarges.
"It really is a wonderful organ! I'm playing everything from Franck to Rheinberger to Bach... and all of these different-style pieces sound really very fine. I find the key action quite graceful to play. Because so many of the sounds are the golden-period Hook sounds we love, we're thrilled to have such an organ in Virginia---at long last. Thanks for all that you have done to provide this special, magnificent instrument to a location in our state. The only big disappointment is that it's not here in Richmond!"
Bruce Stevens - University of Richmond
"Thanks for the good work... and for giving Virginia an E. & G. G. Hook organ. I believe it is the only organ in the state to have most of its tonal components arising from the brothers Hook during their control of the company."
William VanPelt - retired Executive Director, Organ Historical Society
Photos of R-345 by Willian VanPelt