First (Park) Congregational Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The pipe organ at First (Park) Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has its roots in the 4 manual, 53 rank instrument built in 1930 by the E.M. Skinner Organ Company of Boston. In 1969, the M.P. Möller Organ Company of Hagerstown, Maryland rebuilt and made significant additions to the instrument. Following a fire in 1988, the organ was again rebuilt and enlarged by M.P. Möller. A new console plus Solo and Antiphonal organs were constructed. The organ numbered 103 ranks of pipes.
Mechanically, much of the 1930 Skinner mechanism still remained, but the chambers had become overly crowded and difficult to access due to the additions and changes. In recent years, the instrument began experiencing problems with the console and controls. Even more problematic was the difficulty of accessing components for maintenance and repairs.
To rectify these issues, Muller Pipe Organ constructed a new instrument of 80 ranks, playable across 4 manuals and pedal. Mechanically, the instrument is entirely new, except the Solo and Antiphonal Organs, which remain virtually unchanged since they were newly installed in the 1988 renovation. Select pipework from the existing instrument was revoiced and repaired to complement new pipework. A new Aeolian-Skinner replica console was constructed and finished to match the church furnishings.
The organ is operated by a Peterson ICS-4000 Integrated Control System. This state-of-the-art system features built-in record/playback capabilities; Peterson's proprietary "Organist Folders" method of organizing each musician's personal settings; a USB interface for transferring MIDI files and archiving combination action settings; and a host of other conveniences for organists.
The organ is conceived in the American Classic style and is well suited to play all types of organ literature, choral accompaniment, and church hymnody. Every division possesses independent and complete principal, flute and reed choruses, each with a clearly defined character and role. The organs reed choruses are thoroughly French-style, providing the full organ character with an extremely exciting fire. Many beautiful solo stops are found throughout the organ, such as the Choir Krummhorn, the Swell Vox Humana, and the Solo Clarinet. Uncommon in instruments of this size, there are several powerful solo reeds: the Choir Trompette Harmonique and Clairon, and the Solo Tuba and Trompette en Chamade. A comprehensive pedal division provides for solo stops plus a foundation for any conceivable manual registration.
The new Muller Pipe Organ is a source of pride for the music ministry of Park Church and will serve as an inspiring element of worship for generations of future churchgoers.
The Inaugural Concert was presented on February 26, 2006 by award-winning composer and improviser Dr. Aaron David Miller (represented by Penny Lorenz Artist Management). Michael Bloss, former music director at Park Church, performed the Dedication Service and Concert on April 30, 2006.
For more information, please contact:
Muller Pipe Organ Company
PO Box 353
Croton, OH 43013
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