St. Olaf Catholic Church Minneapolis, MN, USA

The organ, built by Lively-Fulcher Pipe Organ Builders of Alexandria, VA, was dedicated in 2002 with an organ recital by Dr. Lynn Trapp, Director of Worship and Music, Organist, at St. Olaf Church.

The instrument has 61 stops and 67 ranks (49 independent stops) playable in five divisions: Grand Orgue, Récit Expressif, Positif Expressif, Bombarde and Pédale. The manual and pedal keys are operated by electric slider chests, the stop action is electric and features a state-of-the-art combination action, 256 memory levels and a sequencer. The wind supply is controlled by a traditional bellows system connected to the wind chests by wooden wind pipes. The console is built in the typical Aristide Cavaillé-Coll style. It has natural keys covered with bone and sharp keys made of solid ebony. The internal layout of the organ case places the Positif Expressif centrally in the lower center of the case and the Grand Orgue above it, while the Récit Expressif is located behind the Grand Orgue. The Bombarde reeds are located in the Positif case and the pedal division is divided on either side of the manuals and behind the 16-foot pedal towers in the case. Crafted from African mahogany, the case is inspired by the contemporary architecture of the space and features sleek Scandinavian design elements, yet has a firm traditional construction. The facade pipes are 72% tin and include Grand Orgue Montre 16′, Montre 8′ and Pedal Montre 8′ pipes.

The organ is housed entirely in its own freestanding case and, because of the deep gallery on three sides of the room, is located in the front center of the church to fill the space with sound. The -instrument features a Cymbelstern stop  a group of small bells — and the church’s tower bells can be played from the Récit keyboard. The design of the pipe screens for the instrument draws on the rich traditions associated with St. Olaf. They are made of basswood with patterns of dragons, eagles, and serpents found in the Book of Kells. These patterns are slightly older than the time of King Olaf, but they are strong Scandinavian symbols from that time. The cross that pierces the crown is based on an 8th century piece made for St. Rupert. The crown motif was chosen specifically to represent St. Olaf, and the crosses and crowns are covered in 24-karat gold leaf.

The tonal inspiration for the instrument is firmly rooted in 19th century France, but because of the instrument’s wide range of uses in the extensive music program at St. Olaf, it was designed and voiced with a broad literature base in mind. The Tutti organ is robust enough to support large choirs, orchestras, and the singing of a large crowd of worshipers. The organ also has a wide range of soft tone colors. The broad fundamental of the 8-foot stops and the thick-walled expressiveness of the Récit and Positif chests ensure the accompanying versatility necessary for the performance of choral and solo literature. The warm yet clear polyphonic competence of a wide-ranging main choral work, carefully blended with the tonal mutations and reed colors of Clicquot and Cavaillé-Coll, results in an exceptionally versatile medium for the main body of organ literature. The careful voicing and blending of the individual stops, as well as the requirements for balance and color, are important for certain areas of French, German, and English literature, and ensure a convincing performance of the wide range of literature expected from modern instruments. This instrument is not intended to be a copy of any particular style, nor is it intended to be a collection of styles that attempt to do everything, but rather — through its unique scaling, voicing and balance — it is intended to be a modern 21st century instrument that speaks with its own voice.

This sample set is available from Evensong.