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From The Organ Bench - No. 7 of 14

We learned last week that all pipe organs with electro-pneumatic key action fail and must be rebuilt or replaced every 30-40 years. Our 1949 electro-pneumatic Möller organ began failing in the late 1970s. Under the leadership of Fthr. Creston Tawes, parishioner Zane Knauss, and Margaret Jackson, organist-choir director, after intensive research evidenced by records still on file, a proposal was put forward in 1979 to build a mechanical (tracker) action organ that would last the life of the church building. For many reasons, including the failing health of Fthr. Tawes who died August 8, 1980, and ensuing pastoral and music personnel changes, this project was not forthcoming. Instead, the old organ was rebuilt and enlarged in 1980-81. The rebuilt and enlarged 1981 Möller organ began failing again in 2007 before it met its demise in 2009.

While it is true a new electro-pneumatic action pipe organ is less expensive than a new mechanical (tracker) action organ, in the long run, it is much more expensive because it must be replaced or rebuilt every 30-40 years. Our committee believed it was the most fiscally responsible decision to build a noteworthy pipe organ with mechanical action that would last the lifetime of the church, thereby avoiding kicking the can down the road to future St. Joseph parishioners. Instead of rebuilding or replacing the organ every 30 years, a mechanical action organ only needs to be re- regulated (tightened up) every 50 years. By noteworthy, it is meant an instrument of grandeur, beauty, and variety of voices like no other organ in Columbia or South Carolina. Pray for God’s blessing!


Brad Cunningham, Organist

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