(Casavant Organ installed in 1983)
Our Casavant pipe organ was originally installed in the balcony of the Sanctuary of which the front half is now Hale Chapel. The design of the inverted V followed the roof line of the sanctuary and occupied approximately one quarter of the balcony itself. The decision to replace the old organ was made early in 1978.
All of 1977 - 78 was spent investigating manufacturers and visiting churches. Early in 1978, it was decided to engage Casavant Freres, LTD of St. Hyacinth, Quebec, Canada to build the new organ. Construction began in the church late summer 1978 and the new organ was dedicated on September 16, 1979 with a concert presented by out then organist, Naomi Rowley.
Casavant was established in 1879 and is one of the oldest organ builders in North America. The organ is called a “tracker” or mechanical action organ. Trackers are slender rods that connect the keys to the valves under the pipes.
The tracker organ is the type Bach played. Except for the blower, everything is mechanical. When a key is pressed, a series of trackers and levers opens the valve that lets air into the pipes. This is the most sensitive and long lasting of all the available types of actions and gives an organist increased control. The mechanical action is sensitive to the musician, just as a violin or flute is sensitive to the musician’s touch. It is ideal for hymns and classical music and excels as a fine musical instrument.
There are other advantages of a tracker in addition to the quality of sound. The foremost is longevity. In Europe there are tracker organs over 600 years old. Electric key switches and valve contacts on direct-electric or electric-pneumatic pipe organs have a limited life-span before they have to be rebuilt or overhauled. Maintenance costs, excluding tuning, is near zero on a tracker organ.
When our new sanctuary was built, this organ was completely dismantled, stored in the church basement, then reinstalled in our new sanctuary. It looks like it was designed for its new location and sounds as good as it was meant to be.