Grace Church in New York City
New York, New York
Opus 65, under construction

This organ is designed for a large and historic Episcopal church with an outstanding tradition of excellence in church music.  The inspiration for the design comes in large part from the English cathedral instruments of the late nineteenth century, perhaps imagining the last of these organs to employ mechanical key action.
The extensive four-manual design offers a wide variety of stops with a broad dynamic range.  With two divisions under expression, the organ will provide a dynamic crescendo and the necessary contrasts of timbre and volume to accompany the rich liturgy, hymns and choral music in the Anglican tradition.  It will also have the ability to perform faithfully a wide range of the organ literature.  A contemporary electric solenoid stop action system will afford the organist intimate control over the registration.

In the evolution of organs at Grace Church there have been various attempts by builders to solve the problems of acoustics and placement of the pipes.   For the first time, all the manual divisions at Grace will be contained within the chancel area, close to the liturgical and musical focal point.  Two classical cases will face each other across the chancel with the console placed between the two, an ideal location from which to judge the effect of the instrument and direct the choirs.

Rendering of the proposed organ
Click on the image for a larger view

The Great organ is built upon the Double Diapason 16’, rich, full and sonorous.   Perhaps one could imagine this stop as one that would have been preserved for generations from the time of Father Smith.  A robust chorus of diapasons and reeds is built upon this solid foundation giving the organ a leading voice for congregational singing.  There are no fewer than five manual diapasons of differing character within the chancel.

Beneath the Great is the Choir.  There are two aspects to this division.  The one will provide a foil to the Great, with the traditional stops of a Baroque positive for the playing J.S. Bach, his contemporaries and other organ literature of that genre.  The second part is contained in a small swell box, an echo, containing the most tender of accompaniment stops.

The Swell is across the chancel with a Diapason in façade.  This vocal and elegant stop is contrasted with a Violin Diapason inside the Swell box.   Built upon this foundation is a full Swell containing choirs of principals, flutes, strings and reeds, powerful with the box open and dramatic when enclosed.

For the Solo we have chosen to depart to another time and place with a nod to Father Willis and Ernest Skinner.  That division will be under expression in the top of the Skinner chamber.  The wind pressure will be higher than the rest of the organ to bring out the orchestral character of the stops.   Included are sub and super octave couplers to the Solo to increase the effect of the mostly unison stops.  To enhance the octave development, the Solo wind chest will have 68 note channels to provide pipes when the division is coupled at 4'.   Because of the demands of higher wind pressure and multiple couplers on the key action, this division will be electrically coupled to preserve the tracker action characteristics and not burden the other three divisions when coupled.

Particular attention will be given to the pedal division starting with the inclusion of the original E.M. Skinner 32’ open wood bass pipes, which have never left Grace Church.  Upon this noble bass will be built a chorus of principals.   There will be reeds from 32’ to 4’ as well as open flutes and a Violonbass.   This prominent and sonorous pedal, located in the open chamber designed by Skinner will be augmented with a second pedal division located in the chancel, to provide a more intimate bass for choir accompaniment and continuo. 

The winding of the organ will be nineteenth century in style with large wooden wind canals and parallel-rise multiple fold reservoirs of large capacity, giving the organ a capacious and responsive wind.

What is English Cathedral Temperament?   An organ of this style must be competent in all keys, so we will look to a tuning system that is nearly Equal Temperament.   However, the traditional practice of British tuners is built upon an individualistic technique.  There the temperament is laid by ear, the tuner counting the beats, but included in this is an intriguing practice of "sweetening the thirds".  Just what this means remains to be analyzed and considered along with other recent proposals for nearly equal Well Tempered systems.  With this information, an appropriate temperament will be created for Grace Church.

Improvements to the nave of Grace Church will enhance the acoustical qualities of the space.   Additional work will involve refining the decoration, lighting, energy conservation and technical systems within the church.

Phone 540.886.3583