The Great Kleuker Organ

“The organ, the only harmony, the only lament that mingles earth with the heavens! The only voice that, with sleeping flood and hallowed forests, could murmur here below some beginning of infinite things!”
-Victor Hugo

“The stained-glass windows magnify the light, one of God’s first creations; but the organ brings to the church something similar to light that yet surpasses it: the music of the invisible. It is the wondrous overture to the Beyond.”
– Olivier Messiaen

The organ in our church is an instrument of three manuals and a pedal clavier built by the German firm of Detlef Kleuker from Bielefeld, Westfalia, master organ builders. This builder was selected for the tonal excellence of their organs, the reliability of their actions, and their willingness to install a large mechanical action instrument in a chamber. This chamber, on the Gospel side of the chancel, is approximately two stories in height and was an integral part of the distinguished architect Hobart Upjohn’s original design of the church. In planning for a new organ it was decided to respect the integrity of Upjohn’s original concept while making minimal changes to reflect the current liturgical practices of the Episcopal Church.

Kleuker was also willing to adapt the original magnificent carved oak organ cases to the instrument. The contract was signed in 1978 and the organ was completed at the end of a three-month period of installation, voicing, and tuning in the fall of 1980.

The organ arrived in early September in a very large truck that had been driven onto a ship in Germany and driven off that ship in Norfolk. The organ was in many thousands of pieces and filled much of the church and parish house. Over a period of weeks, more and more of those pieces disappeared inside the chamber, and when the assembly was completed, one of the builders returned to Germany to be replaced by another, a master voicer.

The organ was played for the first time on All Saints Sunday, although it was not until three weeks later that the entire organ was finished. At that time the instrument contained 61 ranks of pipes, for a total of over 3,090 individual pipes, ranging in length from over 16 feet (speaking at 32’ pitch) to a little longer than a pencil.

The Kleuker, a large and, by design, eclectic instrument, leans heavily toward the North German Baroque style but with the basic resources for 18th century French music as well as music from the “romantic” and contemporary periods. It serves admirably in both solo organ literature and service accompaniment, and excels in the accompaniment of English choral music, an important part of our choirs’ repertory.

The instrument has well developed “Principal” choruses in all divisions including a wide spectrum of “mixture” stops and a number of colorful reed stops for both ensemble and solo purposes. Especially noteworthy are the large enclosed “Swell” division with string and celeste stops, a large-scale “Plein Jeu” mixture and a full chorus of French reed stops, as well as the large peal organ with four independent ranks of reeds at 32’, 16’, 8’ and 4’ pitches.

The organ was built with mechanical (tracker) action for the keyboards, and mechanical coupling of manual and pedal divisions, although the “Schwellwerk” can now be coupled to the “Hauptwerk” can now be coupled electrically in order to lighten the pressure required to depress the keys. The stop action (controlling the various sets of pipes) activated electrically so that stops could be set by the organ in combinations that could be changed rapidly by hand or foot pistons, making the instrument very flexible for church services, anthem accompaniments, and organ solo literature.

After 20 years of being played virtually around the clock some refurbishing and updating some refurbishing and enhancement of the organ was made in 2000. A number of significant changes were made in the organ at that time. The combination action was enlarged to give even greater flexibility to the organist for smoother and more elegant performances. There are now 64 levels of computer memory, which permit an extraordinary number of combinations of stops to be set and stored for easy use in playing. Five stops were “re-voiced” to make them more effective in their original musical role. The “principal chorus” on the Hauptwerk, the main division of the organ had never done a completely adequate job of providing the “meat and potatoes” of the organ’s ensemble. These stops now speak with a fresh power and clarity. A commanding solo trumpet stop was added (a “hooded” trumpet whose pipes speak on a thirteen inches of wind pressure on a separate windchest), and some of the stops originally desired but not possible because of financial and space constraints were added through a very advanced digital technology.

Some much-needed repairs were carried out. The toes of the large pipes in the first façade had collapsed under the weight of the pipes themselves. The original toes were off cut and replaced. These pipes were also re-racked so that the weight of the pipes is displaced in such a way that the toes do not bear the full weight of the pipe. The rather battered keyboards were restored and recovered with bone naturals and ebony sharps. The pedals were recovered and re-bushed. The interior of the console was replaced to accommodate the additional stops and combination pistons. Some of the pipes in the Hauptwerk that were close to falling over were re-racked and stabilized.

The new tonal work was carried out by Daniel Angerstein and the mechanical work by John Dower and Company.
 We believe that this great instrument will long resound to the glory of God and deepen in all of us a sense of his goodness, love, and eternity.

Specifications

HAUPTWERK

  • Bordun 16
  • Prinzipal 8
  • Rohrflote 8
  • Flute Harmonique 8
  • Oktave 4
  • Oktave 2
  • Cornet (8) V
  • Mixtur (1 1/3) V-VI
  • Zimbel (1/3) III
  • Trompete 8
  • Zimbelstern
  • Trompette de Fête 8
  • III + II
  • I + II

SCHWELLWERK

  • Prinzipal 8
  • Voce Humana 8
  • Gambe 8
  • Voix Celeste 8
  • Bordun 8
  • Prinzipal 4
  • Spielflote 4
  • Blockflote 2
  • Mixtur (2) VI
  • Fagott 16
  • Trompette 8
  • Hautbois 8
  • Voix Humaine 8
  • Clairon 4
  • Tremulant

POSITIV

  • Gedackt 8
  • Gemshorn 8
  • Flute Celeste II 8
  • Prinzipal 4
  • Rohrflote 4
  • Oktave 2
  • Quint 1 1/3
  • Sifflote 1
  • Sesquialtera (2 2/3) II
  • Scharf (2/3) IV
  • Cromorne 8
  • Cor Anglais 8
  • Tremulant
  • Trompette de Fête 8
  • III + I

PEDAL

  • Violone 32
  • Untersatz 32
  • Prinzipal 16
  • Subbass 16
  • Oktave 8
  • Bassflote 8
  • Oktave 4
  • Flote 4
  • Mixtur (2 2/3) V
  • Fagott 32
  • Posaune 16
  • Trompete 8
  • Trompete 4
  • I + P
  • II + P
  • III + P