The organ in St. Paul's Church grew out of a wonderful collaboration with one of the best organ committees it has ever been my pleasure to work with, led by Patricia Peterson, chair, and then-organist Nancy Johnson.
The committee began its work listening to organs, reading books, and talking with organists and builders about their undertaking. This led to the following initial criteria for the selection process:
· That the instrument to be recommended be primarily liturgical for the purpose of magnifying and exalting the Glory of God.
· That the organ be of a high technical order for long-lasting use with congregation, choral and concert music.
· That it be an instrument of quality workmanship and design in keeping with the traditions of St. Paul's.
· That the builder be selected on the basis of reputation and high respect among musicians and the business community.
· That the organ not require tremendous structural and aesthetic changes to the building itself.
Further inquiry and discussion reduced the number of prospective builders to five, four of whom were interested in submitting proposals. At this point a rating system was devised to evaluate the four builders' work. At visits to representative works the organs were rated in the following categories:
· Expected increase due to inflation
· Anticipated maintenance costs
· Dependability of instrument and builder
· Life expectancy
· Estimated delivery date
· Physical appearance and quality of workmanship
· Ability to meet St. Paul's approach to music
· Ability to lead congregational singing and to make it an uplifting experience
· Ability to accompany the choirs and perform with other musical instruments
· Variety of tonal color
· Tonal balance, blend and contrast
· Ability to play adequately music of many different styles and periods
· Interest of company in the project
The Stuart Organ Company was judged to be equal or superior to others under consideration in all of the evaluative categories and was awarded the contract to build the organ.
Design of the organ evolved from a desire to maximize the space available in the gallery for flexible use by the choir and instrumentalists. This quickly led to disposing the organ as a bracketed main case containing the Great Organ (under expression except the Open Diapason) and a Ruckpositiv, here called Chair in the Old English manner. The Pedal is unenclosed behind the Great.
The exceptional music program of the parish was for many years until recently under the direction of Dr. Mark Steinbach.