UNION — The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once said that “the pipe organ is the King of Instruments,” and that’s certainly true of the pipe organ which holds court in the sanctuary of Grace United Methodist Church.
As impressive as it is, the church’s pipe organ was incomplete for a while and might still be incomplete had it not been for the dismantling of a pipe organ in Georgia.
Grace United Methodist Church recently hosted the “Spring Has Sprung, New Life Begun!” concert by Dr. Brennan Szafron, organist and choirmaster of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, who performed the works of composers from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries on the church’s pipe organ.
The concert was sponsored by the Union Music Club as a fundraiser for its Scholarship Fund.
During the Invocation prior to the concert, Grace’s pastor Rev. David Bauknight, dedicated the recent additions to the church’s pipe organ to the glory of God.
Following the Invocation, Union Music Club President and Grace United Methodist Church Organist and Choirmaster Tommy Bishop addressed those in attendance about the activities of the club. He also spoke about the recent additions made to the church’s pipe organ and the financial challenge the church faced in getting them completed.
“When the Casavant pipe organ console was renovated during the summer of 2011, it was wired for three additional stops to be completed later,” Bishop said. “The estimated cost to complete these stops with the necessary pipe work was around $53,000. The Trustees and Church Council voted to put this project on hold for at least three years because of more pressing renovation issues around the church.”
That’s where things remained and might still be remaining, but for a call Bishop said he received in the fall of 2015 from Michael Proscia, who Bishop described as “Grace’s organ tuner/technician from Bowdon, Georgia.” Bishop said that Proscia told him that “he had located the two ranks of pipes that were needed to complete these additions. These pipes were from an early 1970s Reuter pipe organ (still in good condition) which he had serviced for many years.”
Bishop said that Proscia told him the organ was being dismantled and that he would donate the needed pipes to Grace “if the church would pay the cost for labor/installation and other materials which would be $7,000.”
When it learned of this, Bishop said the Church Council “voted to proceed with this project immediately due to Michael Proscia’s generous offer.”
Bishop said that Proscia, along with his assistant, George, began the work of installing the new pipes during several trips to Union in November, December, and January.
“The additions are now complete and include the installation of 134 additional pipes with chests, wind lines, wind reservoir, an additional blower to power the two ranks of pipes, three engraved rocker tabs, additional circuit boards (unit chest drivers) inside the console, and some complicated electrical wiring under the choir loft floor from the organ console to the pipe chambers,” Bishop said. “The three additional stops include a Flute 8 (extension of Subbass 16) for the Pedal division and an Erzhaler Celeste 8 and Trompette 8 for the Great division.”
Bishop added that, at his request, Proscia “installed a Cymbelstern, operated by a thumb piston, which provides the sound of tinkling bells. This device was also from a previous organ, so there was no additional cost. A reversible thumb piston was also installed to transfer the Trompette 8 from the Great division to the Swell division if desired.”
With all these additions, Bishop said Grace’s pipe organ now has “24 stops, instead of the original 21 and 30 ranks with 1,610 pipes instead of the original 28 ranks with 1,476 pipes.”
Bishop pointed out that Grace’s pipe organ was installed in the summer of 1968 at a cost of $35,900. Forty-eight years later, Bishop said the pipe organ is valued at more than $500,000.
Quoting Mozart about the pipe organ being the King of Instruments, Bishop concluded his report by pointing out that, “to this day, it remains the most complex musical instrument known to humankind.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.