Overcoming Challenges to Make an Old Organ Sing in a New Home

3D Rendering of the Organ Case.

3D Rendering of the proposed organ case, in the rear gallery.

Over the past two years, we have been working with Our Lady of the Pillar Chapel in Louisville, KY to formulate a solution to install a small Wicks instrument that was donated to the church. We have entered into an agreement with the venue to begin work on the project, and this is a project that promises, despite some challenges, to be a wonderful addition to the community at Our Lady of the Pillar.

The chapel of Our Lady of the Pillar is dedicated to the exclusive celebration of the Tridentine Liturgy of the Catholic Church. With an emphasis on chant and traditional hymn accompaniment, we were tasked to provide an instrument that would support, though not overpower, the choir, which is a particular challenge in this room, given some of its acoustical properties. The balcony in the intimate chapel extends nearly one-third of the way into the space, and the floor is slanted down towards the sanctuary, these two factors creating an overpowering “live zone” in the sanctuary itself. Thus, a balance will need to be struck to allow the organ to bloom naturally and tastefully into the room, without overpowering the celebrant during liturgical functions.

The instrument itself is a typical example of a small instrument from the 1960’s, containing five ranks as follows: Diapason, Flute, Salicional, Gamba, Orchestral Oboe; most of these unified in the usual manner. The Diapason is scaled larger than one would expect for a small instrument, and the strings smaller. Some judicious rescaling and logistical corrections within the instrument will take this limited instrument to a new level of versatility which should serve the liturgical necessities well.

Please stay tuned as we plan to provide updates as this project unfolds!

The sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar Chapel

The sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar Chapel