Photo 1

Photo 1. The electropneumatic windchests being rebuilt in preparation for their installation at the Covenant Presbyterian Church.



Photo 2. The three manual Reisner console which will be used for the rebuild project. The placement of the various divisions and the stop tablets within each division has already been mapped out.



Photo 3. The space for the Antiphonal organ at the back of the sanctuary. This part of the overall instrument will give a "surround sound" effect and it is large enough to accommodate 16 foot pipes.

Foundation Undertakes Updating and Expansion of Organ at Covenant Presbyterian Church

In 2001, the Foundation began to be in touch with Covenant Presbyterian Church in Issaquah, Washington about the possibility of placing a pipe organ in their small sanctuary.  In 2002, a two-manual eight rank instrument was placed there and on August 2, 2002, the instrument was dedicated.  See the second article in past news 2002 November for a description of the project at that time.

In 2005, the church moved into a handsome new building, and the organ was moved to the new structure.  For photos of the new building and the organ chamber see Past Projects, Covenant Presbyterian Church.  Since that time, the organ has continued to be played in this new space and since the sanctuary is quite reverberant, it has played quite well even though it has been small. 

While the organ played quite well, as walls on each of the pipe chamber were never installed, no part of the organ is currently under expression.  Further, the antique mechanical switching mechanism has had a number of failures, and the combination action is almost unusable.  Finally, with only eight ranks of pipes, the tonal palate is fairly narrow, especially for the larger sanctuary.

Given the limitations at hand, the Foundation began rebuilding and expanding the instrument in the fall of 2006.  Several windchests were rebuilt and this involved releathering and rewiring these windchests.  At that point, for various reasons this project had to be put aside for a period of time.  However, it was never far out of the minds of the people at the church, and when a suitable console was found for the project in December, 2008, the church purchased it.  This is a three manual Reisner console in very good condition, and it had been connected to a very large home organ in Oregon for a number of years.  It has the advantage of having more than 70 sensory activated magnets in place to operate the swell tablets, and this will save both time and money in the rebuild.  Church organist Jim Whitman has contributed time towards laying out the instrument on the new console.  Foundation volunteer Jim Johnston is currently refinishing the organ bench.

Work on the physical project has already begun.  Jim Rocker at the church has headed up the effort to construct the walls needed for the swell shades on each side of the pipe chamber, and this is nearing completion.  Swell shades have been identified from the supplies of the Foundation, and these and the appropriate swell motors are being installed.  Plans are being formulated to put in the place the "flower boxes" on each side of the enclosed pipe chamber and some of the materials have been secured for these boxes.  These boxes will hold most of the Great division including the diapason chorus.  The electronic system has been ordered from the Syndyne Corporation, and much of this system will be installed in the console while it is in the Foundation shop on Mercer Island.  While this entire project is expected to be staged, ultimately the console will control 16-21 ranks of pipes in four divisions.  One of the unusual aspects of this installation will be an Antiphonal organ for which a sizable ledge at the back of the church was constructed when the church was built.

People who would like to volunteer to be involved in this ongoing project are invited to contact the Foundation.  No experience is required.