The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Shreveport, Louisiana, is home to our Opus 12 instrument of three manuals and 55 ranks. Installed in two free-standing cases in the rear choir gallery of the nave, the organ replaces a compromised instrument from the early 1990s which was never completed. The new organ stands over 30 feet tall and weighs in at nearly 20 tons. The console is a movable custom 3-manual and pedal drawknob console.
The organ was designed in collaboration with organ consultant Dr. James Dorroh of Birmingham, Alabama, and Justin Ward, former Director of Sacred Music for the Cathedral. The project was ushered through the Cathedral under the direction of Father Peter Mangum, Rector. The end specification is a versatile instrument of five divisions, two of which are enclosed. The instrument is comfortable with improvisation necessary for Roman Catholic services as well as congregational singing. All schools of organ literature are quite successful on Opus 12 when called upon for concerts, preludes/postludes and special services.
The Great Division is based on a robust American Principal chorus providing a rich, clear sound with tremendous presence in the space. The Swell Division is based on a French influence with fiery reeds and excellent support foundations. The Choir provides a nice Germanic secondary Principal chorus to mixture with full flutes and mutations available. The blend of principals, flutes and strings provides for a seamless build from PPP to FFF. The final crown is the Pontifical Trumpet mounted inside the case in a horizontal position for maximum power. The solo reeds provide for a commanding single solo line, yet may be used for a final chord without being abrasive.
The organ uses electro-pneumatic slider chests for a clean articulate action. Unit or duplex stops are provided on electro-pneumatic unit action. Winding systems are done with ample size box reservoirs allowing just enough flex without intruding on melodic passages and musical integrity. Michael Morris of our staff provided the visual case designs to couple with the gothic architecture of the 1920s Cathedral architecture. The results are a stunning combination of visual choreography and aural excellence.
Opus 12 was dedicated on October 30, 2011 by Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Shreveport. Dr. Dorroh played the dedication concert that afternoon. The organ was again featured on November 1 for a High Solemn Mass that included the Messe Solennelle of Louis Vierne. Visits may be arranged through our office or the office of the Cathedral.