Johannus Monarke II Organ for The Church of Saint Asaph
Why a new organ for St. Asaph’s Episcopal Church? The almost 20-year-old Johannus American Classic-V instrument served the church very well over the years, but was actually too large a specification for the Sanctuary space (90 voices, over 100 ranks). Additionally, the organ did not have the overall voices ‘color palette’ that the Music Programs at the Church really needed to move forward: Growing emphasis on enhanced congregational and Choir singing support, recital work, chamber ensemble accompaniment – all demanded a different tonal design altogether.
Along with Cunningham Organ Group’s consultation, the Church also solicited other opinions and vendor recommendations for a new instrument. The St. Asaph’s Vestry, Rev. Barry Harte, Rector, and the Director of Music and the Arts, Mr. Roy Harker, chose to move forward with the Global Organ Group’s Monarke solution. Key to the decision was Monarke’s flexibility of approach and complete Custom Design capability.
Mr. Harker spent many hours in consultation with Cunningham’s Chuck Nelsen, Global Organ Groups’ experts, artists, and artisans to design, from the ground up, every aspect of the instrument. Some of the criteria were:
- Design a Tonal Palette of voices from French, German, and American pipe organ building traditions. Woven together with five ranks of existing windblown pipework, the specification had to be capable of playing any of the Liturgical and Concert repertoire, as well as supporting all the needs of congregational and choral singing. A trip to the factory in the Netherlands was instrumental in this effort!
- Design a modern two-manual, Low-Profile console, with specific advanced console control capabilities, and color-matched and complementary to the Sanctuary’s architecture. The console had to be capable of being played in four locations throughout the worship space for different worship and concert venues.
- Design and implement a large, multi-channel (20.3) Audio System, consistent with the architectural integrity of St. Asaph’s, to be delivered and installed in advance of the console’s arrival, before Easter 2020.
- Design and implement a plan for the cleaning, restoring and installing of the existing pipework for eventual ‘hybridization’ with the digital voices. This work in progress is being accomplished with the guidance and expertise of Mr. Peter van der Spek, organ consultant and designer for Cunningham.
As Mr. Harker states, the result thus far has been the realization of the digital portion of the instrument with the highest musical integrity. About the ‘work-in-progress’, he says the entire process working with Cunningham and the Global Organ Group has been exceptional. Listen to the different colors of the digital stops briefly demonstrated here: The beauty of the Vaughn Williams Rhosymedre, the snippet of Bach’s Dorian Toccata, and the grandeur of Jongen’s Chorale (in canon form from ‘p’ to ‘fff’). We hope you enjoy this first video of the Monarke II for the Church of Saint Asaph. When the pipes are back and in place we will be offering you another wonderful musical experience!