Williamsburg United Methodist Church Williamsburg, Virginia Peragallo Organ Company

Article excerpt

From the Builders

The first time our team from Peragallo met with the organ selection committee at Williamsburg United Methodist Church, we recognized that this community understood the limitless value an extraordinary pipe organ would bring to its music ministry. The organ committees were well organized from the start, utilizing the finest talents in finances, planning, architectural design, and musical artistry that the church community had to offer to help shape the goals and define the process of the project.

Upon receiving our commission to build the organ, we immediately became a partner in the process of raising funds for the project. No tool is more useful than education, so in summer 2010, we presented the design to the congregation following services and discussed how the new organ would affect the musical experience at worship. We showcased a number of precedent examples and played recordings of our installations, so that the congregation could get a taste of the emotion only a pipe organ can bring to a musical experience. Simply put, the only thing that beats hearing Bach and Vierne in good surround-sound stereo is being in the middle of a live performance with 62 ranks of real wind-blown pipes powering it. The support for the project was staggering.

The tonal concept for the new pipe organ stems from a design set forth by Tom Marshall, principal organist at Williamsburg United Methodist Church, in collaboration with John Peragallo III, tonal director and president of the Peragallo Organ Company. The final design reflects colors along French and Romantic lines, while paying homage to our E.M. Skinner roots.

In total, the organ includes 62 ranks and 78 stops (3,489 pipes) across five divisions. The main organ divisions - Grand-Orgue, Positif Expressif, Récit, and Pédale - are located in a large chamber to the right of the sanctuary. The Grand-Choeur division is located in a chamber on the adjacent side of the sanctuary, allowing for balanced tonal coverage throughout the nave. The Grand-Choeur is home to the stately Trompette héroïque, whose hooded resonators and Willis shallots project the powerful tone of these reeds down the main aisle of the church.

The key desk features our low-profile French curvedterrace design with an African mahogany shell. The interior woodwork is of natural cherry with rosewood drawknobs and tilt tabs. The key coverings feature rosewood sharps and maple naturals. The stop and divisional layout within the console allows all drawknobs to be within reach for comfortable playing.

The twin cases were designed by Frank Peragallo, vice president of design and director of operations, to match the 18th-century millwork that is present throughout the church. The design of the polished zinc facade pipework blends seamlessly without unbalancing the church's architectural scheme.

The interior layout of the organ was carefully engineered to maintain a stable tuning environment, enhanced tonal projection, and provide space for the seven 16' stops that underpin the chorus of the instrument. The manual windchests of the instrument are of tierce layout design (pipes grouped in major thirds), which encourages tuning stability and harmonic development.

One particularly unique feature is the second portative keyboard. This clavier of maple- and rosewoodcovered keys utilizes wireless MIDI jet technology to access the entire organ via the general pistons and auto pedal. This provides the accompanist and conductor the perfect continuo for smaller settings with instruments and chorus.

The Peragallo family would like to thank the staff of Williamsburg United Methodist Church, especially Ian Kersey, Richard Sowers, Tom Marshall, Hal and Lovee Curtis, Bud Voorhess, Al Gunner, and the Rev. Bill Jones, without whom we could not have brought such a special instrument to life.


Staff Architectural Designer

From the Director of Music Ministries

Since the installation was completed in July 2011, our Peragallo organ has greatly enhanced music in worship, in concert, and in solo recitals. …