In December of 2013, C. B. Fisk, Inc., of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was formally commissioned by Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Southern Pines to build a new mechanical action pipe organ for the church sanctuary. The organ was delivered on December 6, 2015 and was re-assembled by Project Manager Andrew Gingery and his experienced crew. Finish voicing of the organ began in early January 2016 and was completed on Maundy Thursday, March 24th.
The organ was originally intended to be located in the West Gallery where the previous organ lived, but by early 2013 it was decided that the Choir would move to the front of the church and that both organ and Choir would inhabit a newly constructed gallery above and behind the central worship area. In order to accommodate the height of the organ case, and to add more depth and loft to the front of the nave space, two bays of the church roof would be raised.
To accomplish the visual design, a 1:16 scale model of the front of Emmanuel’s interior was built. The design of the organ case and the details of the new “bump-up” at the front of the sanctuary were thus worked out in tandem. Charles Nazarian, Fisk’s visual designer, led this process, always in consultation with the Fisk design team and Emmanuel’s Building and Organ Committees. Close collaboration with the construction company responsible for the renewal of the sanctuary helped assure that the new liturgical platform and Choir gallery would harmonize with the existing architecture while providing adequate space for the new instrument.
Our experience with creating light, responsive actions and our increasing use of materials such as carbon fiber have allowed us to reach a new standard of key action touch with Opus 145’s detached console. When fully realized, the organ will total 35 stops and 2,115 pipes distributed over two manuals and pedal. Though visually and mechanically complete, the organ still lacks 11 of its stops and approximately 842 pipes; these will remain unbuilt until funding is obtained.
Opus 145 is the first organ by C. B. Fisk to contain a partially enclosed Great division. This feature, suggested by Organist & Choirmaster Dr. Homer Ferguson, offers the Organist considerable flexibility in leading and accompanying all aspects of the Episcopal service. A Swell to Great super coupler, another first for Fisk, was also included. This enables the player to couple Swell stops to the Great keyboard an octave higher, resulting in brilliant, shimmering sonorities that otherwise would not be possible.
Pipe scalings, alloys, construction and voicing techniques are all modeled on historic precedents. The hammered-lead pipework of the Great principals, scaled and voiced after 18th-century German examples, exhibits strength, gravity, and cohesiveness – all qualities that enable it to serve well in leading congregational song. In contrast, examples of 19th-century French organbuilding included in Opus 145 are the hammered tin Viol da Gamba 8' and Celeste 8' of the Swell division, scaled and voiced following examples by Parisian organbuilder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, contributing a characteristically rich, edgy timbre to the organ’s sound palette.