|The pipe organ in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Rockies (First United Methodist Church) was installed in 1960 in the church’s new sanctuary located at the corner of North 11th and Hays in downtown Boise, and was used for the first time on Sunday, December 18, 1960.It was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, and designed by then-Director of Music, David Wehr with the assistance of Lawrence Schoenstein. At its installation, the organ was a three-manual instrument of fifty-seven ranks and three manuals. Additions to the instrument were made by the Balcolm and Vaughan Organ Company of Seattle, Washington, in 1983, 1996, and 1999. The instrument currently is comprised of three manuals and seventy-nine ranks.As was customary at the time of its installation, pipes of all manuals are installed in chambers on each side of the chancel area with a small antiphonal manual in the balcony.|
|When our sanctuary was built, the congregation and building committee did a magnificent job of designing and implementing a plan which was not only beautiful but practical, and which planned for future growth. We have a building which has provided an environment conducive to thought and meditation, a building conducive to receiving the Word, and most importantly a building which provides each of us an opportunity to participate in the worship service.One of the most important parts of any worship service is the music, and the Cathedral of the Rockies is known for its excellent music program, An important part of the music of each service is that of the organ.The organ heard each Sunday morning in the Cathedral worship services was first used on Sunday, December 18, 1960. The basic design of the instrument was the work of then-Director of Music Ministry, David Wehr. The organ was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, for many decades the most important and influential American pipe organ builder.The instrument consists of three manuals (keyboards) and pedal, and embodies principles of organ design considered state-of-the-art at the time. The organ is divided on each side of the Chancel above the choir.|
|The great and pedal pipes are located on the north wall (right as you sit in the chancel and look toward the altar), and the swell and positiv manual pipes are located on the opposite wall (left), also above the choir. A small antiphonal (echo) organ is located in the northeast corner of the balcony.When first looking at the console (the desk where the organist sits and controls the instrument), one is struck not only by the size of the instrument (one of the largest pipe organs in the Northwest), but by the myriad number of buttons and knobs which the organist pushes and pulls to make beautiful sounds.The white knobs are known as stops and enable the organist to play different kinds of sound, either separately or in combination. The study of these sounds and the art of their combination is one of the most fascinating and interesting aspects of organ study. Also noted are various buttons below the keys of each manual. These are known as pistons and enable the organist to program stops on each manual for later use.The pedals noted above the pedal keyboard are for expression. Both swell and positiv manuals are located behind shutters. These pedals open and close the shutters, thus letting out more or less sound.Upon closer looking at the instrument, both words and numbers are noted on the stops. The words refer to the kind of stop (flute, reed, string, etc.), and the numbers refer to the length of the pipes. Pipes of the sanctuary organ vary in length from less than 1′ to 16′. Two stops (32′ Contre Bassoon and 32′ Contre Bourdon) are electronically produced.The shorter the length of pipe, the higher the sound, and conversely the longer the pipe, the lower the sound. 8′ pipes are fundamental pitch and correspond to the same notes on the piano. 4′ sounds one octave higher, 2′ two octaves higher, etc. 16′ stops sound an octave lower, 32′ stops two octaves lower.Thus the range of the pipe organ’s sound is much greater than the limits of the keys of the manuals. Roman numerals are also seen on the manuals, and these stops are mixtures, sounding more than one pitch per note to give the organ both depth and brilliance of sound.From time to time, the church organist plans articles which will discuss the instrument and its music.
Questions regarding the instrument are welcome and lessons are available.
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For Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ Specifications, please click here.
Our most recent addition to the Cathedral Organ, known as an en chamade, was generously donated by one of our congregation members, Lavaughn Wells, in memory of her late husband David A. Wells. David Wells was the creator and director of the Boise State Keith Stein Blue Thunder Marching Band, and this set of 54 horizontal herald trumpet pipes celebrate his life while bringing extraordinary music to all of ours. Check out this exciting video Mark Hewes beautifully created, illustrating the “Wells Thunder” Trumpet Installation.