John Brombaugh’s Opus 35 pipe organ was designed and crafted explicitly for First Presbyterian Church and has attracted national and international attention since its installation in 2000.
The organ’s general layout follows the traditions of northwest continental European organ building that was reaching its peak development by the mid-17th century. While there are many prototypes, this particular form is respected worldwide for its inspiration to Protestant Christian churches, where congregational participation with hearty singing is part of the normal worship services.
These organs have pipes made of an alloy high in lead, which produce a “vocale” sound related to the angelic sound of young boys and girls singing. First Presbyterian Church’s new organ uses alloys of lead and tin that range from 2 percent tin for the facade and larger interior pipes, to 23 percent tin for the smaller pipes in the chorus of moderately scaled cylindrical pipes, known as the organ’s “Principal plenum.” This musical resource, which was already present in the Middle Ages, is unique to the pipe organ.
To enhance the sound produced, the pipe metal has been strongly hammered. For full effect, the pipes are winded from the historic type of windchests connected by a direct mechanical linkage to the keyboards the musician plays. This entire apparatus is housed in a case that has a positive effect on the sounds its pipes produce, much as the case of a violin does for its strings. This case as for a fine violin, can also have a positive effect for our eyes, so the organ builders have been influenced by the great architectural traditions going back to ancient Greece.
A variety of organ, flute, string, and reed stops, imitative of other musical instruments, serves in addition to the principal pipes. These stops provide musical possibilities for accompanying choral or solo music. This is especially true of the Swell, where louvers can be opened and closed to provide subtle dynamic control of the 2 stops in the Swell box, useful for Romantic English and American anthems.
Each organ voice, with every type voiced, regulated and tuned in the sanctuary, contributes a unique character and color — whether used by itself or in combination — and stimulates the organist’s imagination in the performance of historic repertoire or in spontaneous improvisation.
There is a Wikipedia entry about organ builder, John Brombaugh: go to entry here . . .