The cathedral organ
Christ Church Cathedral has a long and distinguished history of music and pipe organs. The parish installed a Catlin organ in the early 1800s, the first in this part of the state. American organ builders Erben, Hook and Hastings, and Hutchings built later installations. All of these organs were located in the rear gallery. In 1925, Ernest M. Skinner and Co. installed a large four-manual organ in the chancel, containing some of the largest 32’ pipes in the state.
The present organ, Opus 2417, dates from 1965, and was built by Hartford-based Austin Organ Company. The organ contains fifty-six ranks and is controlled by a three-manual console. Although preparation was completed for a seven-rank antiphonal organ, it was never built. The full specification of the present organ is listed here.
As part of the last projects to restore Christ Church Cathedral to its full splendor, the organ was refurbished in 2000-2001. At that time, all the organ pipes were cleaned, the reed pipes were re-voiced, and 3 digital 32’ stops were added. The console was updated with solid-state combination action and special computerized features employing the Uniflex 2000 Pipe Organ Control System designed by the late Tim Rickman, which features a sophisticated record/playback studio with multi-track capabilities, and a complete combination action function. Multiple organists are easily accommodated and each can customize their uniquely individual organ definitions and piston registrations and save their settings for future use.
Built in December 2001 by the Austin Organ Company, the antiphonal organ completed the original 1965 plan. The rear gallery organ is enclosed in a case of red oak, and provides support for congregational singing. The Trompette-en-Chamade stop, horizontal pipes made of brass, is the crowning glory of the rear organ as well as a triumphant sound over all the organ. With the addition of the antiphonal division, the Cathedral’s organ has sixty stops and seventy-one ranks of pipes. In 2008 and 2009, the wind pressures of all divisions except the Antiphonal were raised which resulted in even clearer speech, power and projection into the room.
The Cathedral is also fortunate to have a one manual, six stop mechanical action instrument installed in the Cathedral House Auditorium Balcony. More information on this instrument, Casavant Opus 3128 which was given to the Cathedral by the St. James congregation now resident at the Cathedral, can be found by clicking here.