CROOKSTON-The notes cascade from the church balcony, muted at first, then building to a thunderous crescendo. "You're hearing the changing emotions of the organ," explains John Reitmeier. He is referring to the new pipe organ in Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Crookston. The organ will be dedicated on Sunday, April 14, during the 7:45 and 10:45 a.m. services. An organ dedication recital will be presented at 3 p.m.
Dr. Charles Ore, DMA, of Seward, Neb., will be guest organist at both services as well as at the recital. "Dr. Ore is a nationally recognized organ recitalist and composer, renowned for his improvisation techniques in organ music," Reitmeier says.
Almost a Decade
The dedication and recital mark the culmination of a project that started in 1987, according to Reitmeier, who is chairman of the Organ Committee for Our Savior's Lutheran Church. A committee was formed to consider organs to replace the Allan organ, installed in 1963 (that organ has been given to Grace Lutheran Church of Crookston). An organ fund was established through designated memorial gifts. In 1993, Loretta Vandseth, a member of Our Savior's congregation, set up a plan with the Lutheran Church-Missouri (Synod) Foundation for a pipe organ for the Crookston church. The committee - made up of Reitmeier, Pastor David Sherry, Laurain Jurchen, Don Weiland, Beth Sherry, Gilmore Borslien and Gilbert Weber - started looking for a suitable organ. George French (Director of Music at Trinity Lutheran in Crookston) served as a consultant. By November, 1994, committee members had traveled throughout the Midwest to see and listen to more than 20 different organs. "The Johnson Organ Company of Fargo, N.D., was eventually selected as our builder," Reitmeier recalls.
An International Instrument
The organ, designed in the northern German tradition, was built during the summer and fall of 1995. The zinc and brass pipes were made in Czechoslovakia; the wood pipes were made at the Johnson shop in Fargo, N.D. There are 924 pipes in 17 ranks. The largest pipe, 16 feet tall, has a deep, regal tone of a trumpet. The smallest pipe, about an inch long, has a voice like a whistle. Installed in the church balcony, the pipe chamber's dark oak woodwork duplicates the woodwork on the altar of the sanctuary. The console is trimmed with burled maple and keys are made of maple and rosewood. "The organ is unique in that there are three keyboards and each has (three) musical instrument digital interfacing stops," Reitmeier says. "This organ is designed to allow for future expansion." The actual installation took about six weeks. The organ, remodeling, electrical wiring to accommodate 240 (volt) current and the installation cost in the area of $180.000.00, according to Pastor Sherry.
"To the Glory of God"
The new pipe organ was made possible largely through a $160,000.00 gift from Loretta Vandseth. She emphasizes that the organ is dedicated "To the Glory of God." A plaque on the organ is engraved with the names of Loretta Vandseth and her late husband, Martin.
The organ was "voiced" by Phares Steiner of Maryland. Stinar, who is a world renowned voicer, spent about 10 days at Our Savior's, balancing the volume, pitch and tone of the organ. "Each organ - like each organist - is just a bit different. No two organs will sound the same on any given day," Reitmeier notes. "This organ has a stirring voice. The music surrounds you. You can actually feel it." While he obviously loves the instrument, Reitmeier says he only plays the organ for fun. The regular church organists are Laurain Jurchen, Candace Jurchen, and Beth Sherry. Reitmeier says he is thrilled to have been involved in the purchase, installation and dedication of the new pipe organ at Our Savior's Church. "This is a once in a lifetime experience for the church. This organ should outlast all the committee members. Its music will last for generations to come."
©2003 Johnson Organ Company, Inc.