Immanuel Presbyterian Church Los Angeles, CA, USA

The following three instruments are available as a bundle from Evensong Music.

Immanuel Presbyterian, Los Angeles is one of the great churches on Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, California. The main church seats over 2,000 people. There are three organs on the campus. This 1927 EM Skinner (Opus 676), a 2 manual 1977 Hradetzky tracker action instrument, and a 1956 Schlicker (the first three-manual Schlicker to be installed in Southern California). A history of the church is available at https://immanuelpres.org/history/.

Clarence Mader was the organist at Immanuel Presbyterian from 1929 through 1966. He presided over the then brand new EM Skinner organ, and over the installation of the 1956 Schlicker in the Westminster chapel on the campus when the chapel was remodeled.

Unfortunately, due to significant demographic changes since its heyday in the mid 20th Century, the instruments have fallen into disrepair, and the church is serving its community in ways that don’t involve these fine instruments. Luckily Evensong was able to have preserved them for Hauptwerk.

The Chapel instruments (Hradetzky and Schlicker) are in very dry rooms and are recorded with 2 channels.  The Skinner is in a very large room and is offered with 6 channels.

The sample set includes three complete and separate instruments.  The instruments occupy completely separate spaces on the campus.  The Hradetzky and Schlicker each occupy a chapel, with the EM Skinner in the main sanctuary. Each is very different from the other and complements each other nicely. 

1927 EM Skinner (Opus 676), 4 manuals, 63 stops, 62 ranks

The main sanctuary housing the EM Skinner is an enormous space, capable of easily seating over 2000 people. The organ is on the front balcony, chambered on the left and right sides. Solo, Swell, and most of the Pedal are located in the left chamber, Great and Choir are in the right chamber.

While this instrument was in decent shape, it hadn’t been maintained for over a year. Tuning was relatively good, but there were a number of stops missing or not working, and the Tremulant on the Choir was inoperable. The Echo division, originally in the back of the church, has long since been completely removed. Evensong used samples from their library to fill in historically appropriate duplicates to create a complete instrument.

The instrument was modified somewhat in the mid of the last century as the Orgelbewegung movement took hold. Fortunately, not very many changes, which fundamentally impacted the voicing or structure of the instrument, were done. Evensong’s research indicates the following was done:

  • Removed Major Bass completely (Evensong has replaced it using a large Open Wood from Evensong’s library)
  • Added a Quintadena 16′, playable in the pedal and replacing the borrowed Bourdon 16′ in the Great
  • Erzähler moved from Great to Choir
  • Piccolo 2′ and Flautino 2′ swapped between Swell and Choir
  • 1 3/5′ added to Choir
  • Cor de Nuit 8′ in Choir and Concert Flute 8′ in Echo swapped
  • Geigen Principal moved from Choir to Great

Evensong has “reversed” these changes in their representation of the instrument. They have also judiciously added a few stops to make the instrument more flexible but in keeping with the EM Skinner genre. The Great mixture V and the Choir mixture are composed of principal samples. The Great mixture IV is from the instrument but has a tierce in it up to middle C.  Evensong has added the Great mixture V for more traditional registrations of today.

1956 Schlicker, 3 manuals, 39 ranks

The Schlicker is in quite a poor repair. It has not been maintained for many years and is alleged to have been out of use since around 2000. Much of the console is inoperable, with many notes in most ranks missing. The mixtures are all hopelessly out of tune. Evensong has composed mixtures matching the composition from the other principals in the instrument. They were able to fill in missing samples through advanced audio processing techniques.  It is the miracle of modern technology that allows us to preserve instruments like this before they are completely lost, and we are really glad to have been able to do it.

The Westminster chapel where the organ is located is now used as cold storage for the community food bank run by the church.

1977 Hradetzky, 2 manuals, 20 ranks

The Hradetzky organ is in the Chichester chapel, where the Presbyterian congregation now worships.  The organ was donated in memory of Clarence Mader in 1977. It replaced an old home Aeolian pipe organ that was in the chapel, installed when the church was built.

The instrument was one of three instruments of similar size by the same builder at about the same time for Southern California. The other two are at UCLA and UC Irvine.

The hall is relatively small, and as was the acoustic trend at the time, very dry. The organ has very distinct and clear voicing and is outstanding for the performance of Baroque and some modern literature.