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Mary, Gate of Heaven Church, Myerstown, PA

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Mary, Gate of Heaven Church was home to one of Buch’s organ technicians, William Monaghan.  When Bill was called to his eternal home early in 2012, the memorial service was filled with fellow parishioners, organists and organ builders – all friends.  He had a great impact on many who came to celebrate his life and memory.

As a technician, Bill began collecting pipe work for his beloved parish in the hope that one day, they would be able to install them in the church – unfortunately, a dream he would never see realized.  Before he died, Bill had made known that he wanted Buch Organ Company to be engaged in the installation of the organ.

When Buch Organs visited the church to see Bill’s collection, there were 6 very nice ranks of pipes:  4′ Principal, 2′ Super Octave, 2-2/3′ Nazard, 4′ Koppelflote, 8′ Krummhorn and an 8′ Trumpet.  Bill’s taste in pipe work would prove to be as expert as his service abilities.

Since Bill had many associations, Buch Organs decided to engage R. J. Brunner in the project to build the windchests and supply two more important ranks:  An 8′ Principal and 8′ Spitzflote.  With the pipe complement filled, they would become a spectacular Great Division to be mounted atop the utility room just to the left of the sanctuary.  The utility room would be the perfect place to house the blower to supply wind to the pipes located directly above.

Having discussed the options, Organist John and Priest Fr. Robert Berger decided on the Rodgers 928 – a three-manual and pedal organ whose Great Division matched the pipe specification beautifully.  Since the building of enclosures for pipes was not an option, this meant that the entire Great Division and the Krummhorn would be unexpressive.  This turned out to be a non-issue since the 928 has a digital Krummhorn on the Choir division that is expressive.  The Rodgers Console also provides the digital back-up for all of the pipe work should the Great Division need to be expressed for any piece of music.  This is provided by means of Ancillary On and Pipe Off controls which are standard on all Rodgers Organs.

Since the Trumpet and Krummhorn would rarely, if ever, be used together, another Rodgers feature made this a non-issue.  The Rodgers Voice Palette system allows up to 4 stops per stop control.  The Trumpet would be the primary (engraved) stop and the Krummhorn would be available from the same draw knob by means of the Voice Palette system.

Rodgers Voice Palette system also solved another issue.  Bill had collected a very nice 2-2/3′ Nazard which was not specified for the Great Division of the Rodgers 928.  Similary to the Trumpet/Krummhorn solution, the Nazard would be placed in the Voice Palette of the Great Fourniture IV.  Since the Fourniture IV sounds the 2-2/3′ pitch in its composition (as well as 1-1/3′), these two would scarcely be used together in good taste.  The Voice Palette system also allows the organist to set what stop will be the “default,” whether a pipe stop or a digital stop.

The primary challenge in the installation design focused on the place of the organ in relation to the choir.  The choice of the three-manual 928 offered the most versatile solution to this challenge, allowing the tonal colors of both divisions for accompaniments.  The Swell and Choir, both digital divisions, would be placed as near the choir as feasible in order to provide support for the performance of liturgy, anthems, hymns and solos.  Since there are no chambers within which to place the audio components, custom speaker units were specified with paint color matching the walls and finish colors matching the woodwork of the church nave.

Installation began with the removal of the old organ and the arrival of the Rodgers 928 digital controller and audio system.  The digital system would be used while the pipe work was in final preparation.  Installed just in time for Ascension Day, the organ debuted to fervent applause even before the pipes had arrived.  At the end of May the winding system was complete and the windchests installed.  The Great Flues and Krummhorn would be on 3-1/2″ of wind and the Trumpet would be a perfect Solo Trumpet on 5-1/2″ of wind.   The Pipes would arrive and be installed in early June to be followed by tuning and finishing.  With the pipes complete, the organ would be ready for the digital finishing.

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