Christ Lutheran Church Baltimore, Maryland Andover Organ Company Methuen, Massachusetts

The American Organist, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Christ Lutheran Church Baltimore, Maryland Andover Organ Company Methuen, Massachusetts


From the Builder

History

Christ Lutheran Church, in the heart of Baltimore's famous Inner Harbor district, is a dynamic and diverse congregation with a strong sense of mission for its place and time. Founded in 1887 to serve English-speaking Lutherans in South Baltimore, by the 1920s the congregation had members throughout the region.

Firmly committed to the City of Baltimore, Christ Church was a leader in the rebirth of the Inner Harbor and the Federal Hill and Otterbein neighborhoods. In 1955, while other congregations left the inner city, Christ Church built its beautiful new Gothic sanctuary, designed by Philip H. Frohman, principal architect of Washington National Cathedral. Six years before the Inner Harbor opened in 1980, the congregation built Christ Church Harbor Apartments, 288 units of senior-citizen housing for low- and moderate-income persons, and the Deaton Hospital - now University Specialty Hospital, a division of the University of Maryland Medical System. The church maintains a shelter for homeless women and their children on its premises.

The congregation is also committed to excellence in worship and music. Under the inspired leadership of Paul Davis, who served Christ Church from 1968 to 2011, and, since 2011, Daniel Aune, the congregation has been a leader in music in service to divine worship. This commitment was reaffirmed by the commissioning of a major new organ from the Andover Organ Company.

Case Design

In designing an organ case, the architectural style of the building is paramount. An organ is usually the most massive piece of "furniture" in any building and one must be careful, or it can overpower a space. Our aim has always been to make the organ look as though it has always been there. Christ Lutheran's exceptional Gothic style quickly became the inspiration for our design. We wanted the case to be traditional Gothic but with a contemporary interpretation. Christ Lutheran allowed our case designer, Donald Olson, to combine two traditions: a case with the pipes encased in woodwork and carvings, along with the Victorian idea of stenciling the pipes.

In the Victorian period, woodwork gradually disappeared above the impost and was replaced with a fence of pipes decorated with their own design - usually bands of gold and various colors combined With fleur de lis or other designs. There would be no Victorian bands of color in these pipes; we wanted a true Gothic design that had an upward thrust, as though it would continue forever, without being stopped by a visual barrier that bands often create.

Early on in the design phase, Marylou Davis, a national expert in painted decoration, was contacted for input on the style of stenciling that would best suit the building. The design needed to work with the chancel ceiling stenciling, but in a more subdued version. Examining the many stencil patterns in the church and chapel, Marylou found an interesting pattern that suggested a stone wall. Mirroring the image, she felt, would make an ideal pattern for the two outside pipes of each tower. These pipes reflect a texture rather than making a bold color statement. Their paint colors were toned to match the stonework in the church, and textured paint was applied in what would be the "stonework" stencil. The center pipes needed to have an authentic Gothic design. Olson found the answer in a mosaic diamond pattern surrounding the famous 1305 frescoes by Giotto in the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy.

The instrument is housed behind two identical, symmetrical cases that face each other across the chancel. The manual divisions, Great, Swell, and Positiv, are located on the left side and have suspended tracker action. The Pedal is on the right side and is electrically operated. For good tonal projection, the cases were cantilevered into the chancel area as far as possible without intruding on the worship space or line of sight of the front window.

There were some wonderful carvings that served as screens for the former Möller organ. …

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