First United Methodist Church has maintained a strong leadership role in the Salisbury, North Carolina community for well over 100 years. In 1980, the church installed a new 3-manual and 53-rank Schantz organ in the sanctuary. In 2001, we removed all exposed pipework, covered exposed chestwork, and sealed chamber openings while the sanctuary was being repainted. Re-leathered all internal pipe valve actions and windchest primary actions. Completed in April 2001.
In the early 2000s it was becoming clear that a humidity problem was taking its toll on the organ. Chest action and pipe failures became more apparent in recent years.
In 2008, the organ project initiated by Adam Ward, then Organist/Choirmaster, was signed. The project encompassed the complete replacement of the reed stops in the organ, 9 ranks in total, and the renovation of the console.
The console was removed and returned to our shop in Norcross in summer of 2008 for complete refinishing and renovation. The console now features a new relay and capture system using Solid State Organ Systems components. The capture action offers 100 levels of memory with Solid State Organ Systems "Any Piston Next" sequencer. The console's internal dolly system for mobility had collapsed, rendering the console difficult for one person to move. That dolly system was restored and reinforced. New interior drawknob jambs and of burled walnut housed the new drawknobs of ebony and maple woods. These complement the new reverse color tracker touch keyboards with ebony naturals and maple sharps. Console installation was completed in fall of 2008.
Installation of the new reed stops was completed in late Fall of 2008. In early 2009 we began the process of re-regulation of the flue work. The original organ dated from 1980 and still possessed a sound indicative of the 1960s and 70s neo-baroque era. The organ favored a tone that was very bright but failed to fill the room and lead the congregation. Unfortunately a humidity problem in the sanctuary had taken its toll on the original reed stops and renovation of this pipework was not cost effective. That turned out to be a huge blessing since we were able to increase the scaling of the stops in proportion to the room. We maintained the French and German texture of sound for the reeds as originally set forth in the specification.
The fluework of the organ was showing its age in tonal regulation with loud and soft notes and notes that were slow or off speech. During the regulation we were able to foster a more fundamental bloom of tone. The exposed Mixtures were relaxed and tamed as well. In the end, we were able to coax more color from the 8' line of the ensemble and yet maintain a silvery clarity in sound.
Matthew Brown, a graduate of Eastman School of Music and student of Gillian Weir brought a tremendous level of musical interpretation to the project as we shaped the voices of the instrument. The project under his guidance has surpassed just a simple mechanical restoration into an instrument possessing beautiful sonority. The project was completed in spring of 2009.
Should you find a trip to central North Carolina in your future, we invite you to visit and hear this magnificent 53 rank instrument.
This organ was featured on Pipedreams episode #1041.