Opus 114 was the gift of Craig and Joan Watjen, long-time supporters of the Seattle Symphony. From the earliest days of planning for Benaroya Hall, an organ had been included in the overall design. Upon viewing initial architectural conceptions of the new hall and pipe organ, Craig Watjen recognized the instrument as an important symbol for the orchestra’s new home. Mr. Watjen, a professional clarinetist and software executive with degrees in music from the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory, identified the organ as the best way to support the symphony in its new hall.
In designing Opus 114, our task was to create a powerful and flexible instrument with the resources to play music from many periods and genres. The Great and the Positive have French and German reeds while the Swell is entirely French Romantic. The Solo division, powerful enough to hold its own with the entire symphony orchestra, features the Flauto Mirabilis and Clarinet as unique and engaging color stops; the bold Stentor Diapason 8', Stentor Octave 4', and Stentor Mixture comprise the principal chorus for use with orchestra. All these stops act as intermediaries to the spectacular tubas, the climax stops of the instrument.
The organ’s eighty-three ranks are arrayed in five divisions over three manuals and pedal. Natural keys are of cow bone with sharps of ebony; stop knobs are of cocobolo. The organ’s electric stop action includes the solid-state combination action with 128 levels of memory.
Three blowers totaling nearly twelve horsepower, and moving more than 3,100 cubic feet of air per minute, supply the wind required for this powerful instrument. The organ represents more than fifty thousand hours of work and weighs more than twenty-five tons.