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Mayflower Congregational Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Background

Established in 1960, the Mayflower Congregational Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan first installed a Tellers Organ Company 68-rank pipe organ in 1968. Eventually, thirteen ranks were added, making it the largest pipe organ Tellers Organ Company ever built. Three decades later, this fine instrument was showing its age with numerous signs of disrepair.

Why was the Organ Rebuilt?

Mayflower's congregation was determined to preserve its unique pipe organ and its tradition of classic liturgical music in its service. Jonathan Tuuk, who serves as both principle organist and music director at the church, says, "We wanted a distinct instrument with its own personality. It was simply a matter of taste and style."

Scope of the Rebuild Project

After extensive work, the pipe organ is now one of the largest such instruments in western Michigan, having 92 ranks of pipes. According to Tuuk, it is not a "clone" of any other instrument around: "A complete tonal refinishing gives our pipe organ a big sound with all the orchestral colors."

The Lauck Pipe Organ Company of Otsego, Michigan rebuilt the organ in stages, over four years, beginning in 1994. Lauck Pipe Organ was able to retain much of the original instrument, but work was extensive. Completed just this year, work included equipping the organ with Solid State Coupler and Switching systems. Lauck also added an all new five-manual console and relocated some of the original pipes during the remodeling of the organ.

James Lauck, owner of the company, said, "This organ was the finest instrument built by the Tellers Organ Company at the time. Due to increasing problems, a major rebuilding was necessary. This restoration provided a good opportunity to make tonal improvements to the instrument and to augment the instrument's size and capability."

Other work included:

  • Addition of 99-memory levels of Combination Action and record/playback system;

  • Addition of MIDI;

  • Addition of 11 ranks of pipes, including new flute, strings, and principal celeste stops;

  • Complete revoicing of pipes;

  • Building new windchest to accommodate improved layout of stops;

  • Addition of new windchests for flute stops of the Great division;

  • Addition of a 16' series of pitches to the Great organ.

    Fundraising

    Funds for the rebuilding project came in the form of an anonymous gift. An inscription on the console reads, "This organ is dedicated to all past, present, and future choir members of Mayflower Congregational Church."

    Other Highlights

    Mayflower Congregational Church presented a dedication concert in April, 1998. There were two performances, both of which sold out well in advance of the concert, by Jonathan Tuuk, who is also the organist for the Grand Rapids Symphony. For both concerts, the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra performed with Mr. Tuuk as organ soloist. In an interview, Mr. Tuuk said the restored organ has, "A big sound with all the orchestral colors."

    Lauck Pipe Organ Company of Otsego, Michigan, has been building and restoring pipe organs since its establishment in 1975. They have restored pipe organs in throughout Michigan and the midwest region of the country.

    Jonathan Tuuk may be reached at Mayflower Congregational Church, 2345 Robinson Road, S.E., in Grand Rapids, or phone 616/459-6255.


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