Belin Chapel, Houston Baptist University Houston, Texas Létourneau Pipe Organs

The American Organist, May 2010 | Go to article overview

Belin Chapel, Houston Baptist University Houston, Texas Létourneau Pipe Organs


From the University President

Like many musical instruments, the magnificent Létourneau organ at Houston Baptist University is a work of art that appeals to more than one of the senses. Its glorious sound delights the ears and uplifts the soul, while its visually stunning presence captures the attention and interest of the eyes. As a major focal point in the Belin Chapel and the Morris Cultural Arts Center, this exceptional pipe organ, given by Jim and Sherry Smith, will greatly enrich aesthetic experiences for worshipers and other celebrants in the chapel.

Fernand Létourneau and his team of professionals at Létourneau Pipe Organs deserve our thanks. They have provided us not only with an excellent instrument but also with truly attentive service and support throughout the construction of the organ. This instrument will enhance shared worship experiences, teaching opportunities, and artistic expressions that will glorify Christ our Lord and uplift the listener for generations.

ROBERT B. SLOAN JR.

From the University Organ Professor

After the initial wave of concerts and programs on our new pipe organ, I have had an opportunity to sit back and consider the recent installation of our wonderful Létourneau instrument in Belin Chapel. It has truly been a joy sharing this remarkable instrument with the faculty, staff, and students of our university as well as the Houston community through diverse programs. These events have included three major organ recitals: the inaugural concerts with artist Joby Bell, my faculty recital, and a recital performed by our independent consultant, John Gearhart. In addition to solo organ recitals, I performed Respighi's Suite in G Major for Organ and Strings with the Houston Civic Symphony, accompanied choral concerts, and offered various short programs to introduce the organ to the university's family and friends. The instrument has enhanced university worship services, and it has been a privilege to teach and practice each week on this wonderful organ.

HBU's need for a versatile pipe organ that could function as a teaching instrument, a concert organ, and an instrument for worship could not have been more fully realized. The rich principals, mixtures, and reeds provide the foundation for full congregational singing, yet also support a wide range of the classical organ repertoire. I particularly love the lush strings. The Gemshorn, Gamba, and their respective céleste stops provide a wide continuum of sound that typically would require several more ranks of strings to accomplish, particularly when used in conjunction with the expression pedals. The organ's diverse flute stops rival instruments of much larger size, and each individual rank is exquisite! At the same time, the flutes provide the appropriate support for the host of solo stops.

I continue to be grateful for the recommendation to place the Great 8' Tromba on a separate windchest, giving it the truer Tromba sound and permitting its availability on the Choir manual. For an instrument of this size, I have not played another organ with such a wonderful diversity of reeds. The large and varied Pedal division, with several borrowed manual stops for greater flexibility, displays none of the all-too-common volume or timbre gaps.

The dramatic visual impact of this instrument in Belin Chapel helps prepare one for the elegance and majesty of its sound. As the perfect complement to the chapel and its stained glass windows, Opus 116 is one of Houston's most beautiful pipe organs.

When we began the process of looking for the right builder, we were drawn to Létourneau for several reasons. We knew of the company's reputation and quality from personal experience with several instruments around the country. The initial organ proposal was both well integrated and versatile. Equally impressive, the initial visual design for Opus 116 served to enhance our chapel rather than overwhelm the room. …

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Belin Chapel, Houston Baptist University Houston, Texas Létourneau Pipe Organs
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