Trinity Lutheran Church Sheboygan, Wisconsin Buzard Pipe Organ Builders Champaign, Illinois

The American Organist, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Trinity Lutheran Church Sheboygan, Wisconsin Buzard Pipe Organ Builders Champaign, Illinois


SOMETIMES great new organs result when materials from older instruments are recrafted and repurposed. Many of the best builders throughout history have reused former instruments to varying degrees in their new work. Our Opus 4 1 began life as a Moller, rebuilt and enlarged several times during its history. We happily agreed to reuse the best of the existing materials, all the while considering this project a commission to build a new organ. The facade's casework, for example, is the original Moller woodwork, redesigned and renewed, now including speaking pipes of the Great and Pedal 8 'Principals.

We respect our clients' musical and liturgical needs, and the good work of those builders who preceded us. In this case, Trinity Lutheran Church wanted us to build an organ that would meet the rich musical and liturgical needs of traditional Lutheran worship, honor the gifts of past donors of the existing organ, and respect the deep German heritage of the congregation and the wider community. They loved the tonal depth of our organs but wondered if we could stretch our "Anglo-American" style and create a unique work of art just for them.

My organ-playing roots go deep into the performance of the great works of Bach and the exciting "turning of the tables" that the Organ Reform Movement brought to our profession at the time I was just beginning organ study. My love for romantic textures and symphonic registrational colors developed as a synthesis of these colors into the framework of Classic organbuilding, not from a rejection of the lessons the Organ Reform Movement taught. An organ for Lutheran worship must be classically conceived, with a hierarchical ordering of the divisions and the choruses within those divisions. (That's also how we go about designing an Anglican organ.)

The greatest artists throughout history are those who have taken existing styles and stretched them to make their own new style. So it is with styles of organbuilding. It is the classic discipline that we follow (which extends from pipe scaling and voicing through the use of slider and pallet windchests) that allows us to craft our sound to meet a wide variety of contexts. For example, an organ for Lutheran worship should not be exclusively thin, top-heavy, and screechy (as are many examples of Organ Reform, aka "Lutheran" organs); on the other hand, its principals probably shouldn't be Diapasons because its music places a greater importance on transparency of tone. A successful organ - style, denomination, and musical use notwithstanding - needs to be able to text-paint the words being sung or the mood being communicated by the composition. A significant part of Lutheran hymnody expresses profound darkness alongside the joyous light of redemption. Therefore, shouldn't its organ also be able to portray darkness as well as light? Shouldn't the organ be able to thunder and shake the floor - even when playing softly?

We were blessed to receive a strong endorsement of our work by Kantor Rev. Richard Resch from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and gratefully accepted an invitation to build this organ from Trinity Lutheran Church's director of music Brian Heinlein. We were asked to create the quintessential "Lutheran organ" for Trinity parish's expansive and impressive music program, combining the overall effect of our own "house style" with the specific items that differentiate the two. The result of the full organ, along with the ability to make seamless crescendos and diminuendos, is that of a Buzard organ - one simply gets to full organ a bit differently! Principals are light in nature, flutes are transparent. Strings are typically rich and warm, and in one instance explore colors created by tapered pipes. Reeds, while quite similar to those found in our other new work, are slightly adjusted to what was wanted.

The organ's most recent rebuild had been undertaken by the former Schlicker Organ Company. A significant amount of the pipework added during this rebuilding was new. …

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Trinity Lutheran Church Sheboygan, Wisconsin Buzard Pipe Organ Builders Champaign, Illinois
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