First Pres

Rev. 10/25/14

Organ Dedication
1923 Booklet
Click here to
read all about it.

Music

About The Organ

By Nancy Frank, Church Organist

Nancy Frank In 1996, the 78-year-old organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York underwent a complete renovation thanks in large part to a very generous donation to the church from the estate of Yvonne Regan. The restoration, which included the organ and the organ pipe chamber (replacing crumbling walls up in the chamber, installing badly needed lighting, etc.,) cost over $100,000. The entire organ from top to bottom was dismantled and repaired. The cleaning alone required that all 2,094 pipes be removed so that their interiors as well as exteriors could be cleaned and repaired. Having all the dead insects, debris, and dust of over 70 years cleaned out of the chamber helped to clarify the tone. Two new stops designed at Casavant Frères Ltée specifically for this organ were added: the Trumpet and the four-rank Mixture.

The pipes of the Vox Humana (which had been removed some 40 or 50 years ago and stored in the basement of the church) were all cleaned and returned to their place on the Swell. The Harp, an original 1923 stop, was restored. In June of 1996 Luc Santoire began this monumental restoration project, completing the work six months later just in time for the Christmas Eve service.

This organ was one of four instruments all made by the Canadian firm of Casavant Frères Ltée in Quebec and donated to houses of worship in the Albany New York area by Miss Frances Adelaide Strong. (This same benefactor also donated the "Sea of Gallilee" Tiffany Window prominent in the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary.) In 1923 the First Presbyterian Church organ was installed by George Console Santoire, authorized representative of Casavant, with the help of his father. Since that time this organ has been in the continuous care of the same family, being presently maintained by the fourth generation of Santoires. The organ has four manuals, or keyboards, along with a 32-note pedal board. It has 52 ranks (sets of pipes) each producing a particular sound, such as flutes, strings, reeds, trumpets, and diapasons.

Originally, the organ and most of the pipes were visible in the chancel area behind the center pulpit. Around 1927, the organ pipes were moved to their present location up above the chancel behind a lattice work; however, the lattice was subsequently covered with a painted cloth, muffling the sound. During the 1996 sanctuary renovation, this cloth cover was removed allowing the organ sound to project into the sanctuary, significantly increasing its brightness.

In 1988 the original console was replaced and the new console installed in its present location to the right of the lectern. For special events and concerts, this new console may be moved out to the front of the church.

To round out the sound of our pipe organ, in 2005 the Walker Technical Company added 11 digital stops, which included two new mixtures on the manuals, as well as a principal chorus and two 32-foot stops in the pedal, resulting in a fuller, brighter more satisfying sound. The Walker Paradox System reproduces extremely accurate and realistic pipe organ sounds blending with and impossible to distinguish from real pipes."

Today the First Presbyterian Church in Albany has a "King of Instruments" that is as exciting to listen to as it is satisfying to play.

Click here for a small sampling of Nancy Frank's talent - an MP3 recordingof J.S. Bach's Nun komme, der Heiden Heiland from our Advent Vespers 2003 (arrangement by Paul Manz).  

Or how about Jehan Alain's Litanies from Trois Pièces pour Grand Orgue? (2011 recording)


Click here for complete specifications of the Casavant Frères organ.


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