Restoring the Voice of the Cathedral
Restoration and Enhancement of the Cathedral Organ
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Cathedral Organ

Proposed Organ Rendering
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A Brief History of the Cathedral Organ
“It has been pronounced by competent judges to be hitherto unsurpassed.” “The Magnificent Cathedral Organ,” New York Times, Oct. 29, 1852.
The dedication of the Cathedral in 1852 saw the installation of a fine three-manual and pedal pipe organ built by the distinguished American builder Henry Erben
. Some fifty-two feet high, thirty feet wide, and twenty feet deep, it contained forty two stops, three thousand pipes, and was built at the cost of $8,000 (more info).  In 1880 (Bishop Francis McNierny/Organist Léandre Arthur DuMouchel), significant modifications to the organ were made including overhanging keys, additional notes for the swell and pedal keyboards, and a series of mechanical stop controls, state-of-the-art for the time. The instrument served the Cathedral well for over sixty years.

In 1947 (Bishop Edmund Gibbons/Organist Frank Walsh), the firm of M.P. Moeller of Hagerstown, MD built a new three manual and pedal instrument incorporating several ranks of the original Erben pipework (more info). The organ case was redesigned and the original Erben casework discarded. The only successive modification was the addition of a trumpet en chamade in 1969 (Bishop Edwin Broderick/Organist J. Robert Sheehan) by the firm of L.A. Carlson, East Greenbush, NY.

Residual damage from the construction of the nearby Empire State Plaza (1964-1976) rendered the organ essentially unplayable by the late-1970’s. An electronic instrument was placed in the sanctuary to be used for more than thirty years. In March of 2009 during the interior restoration of the Cathedral, the Erben/Moeller pipework was safely removed from the gallery and put in storage. At this time, the aging electronic organ was also removed. Currently, a small, temporary electronic instrument is in use.
The beautiful visual and acoustical environment of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in addition to its prominent role as the mother church of the diocese in the capital of New York State, merit a pipe organ of supreme quality.  Over the period of some thirty years, many attempts to secure a new instrument have been made, most notably by organist J. Robert Sheehan (director of music from 1964-2000) and his successor, William Glenn Osborne (director of music from 2000-2007).
After extensive research, in June of 2010 the Cathedral Organ Committee recommended the Noack Organ Company
of Georgetown, MA to restore and enhance the Cathedral organ. The proposed instrument will have one hundred and seven stops (more info) disposed on two four manual and pedal consoles. All of the existing Moeller/Erben pipework will be refurbished and reused. This will be played in the choir loft and housed in a case reminiscent of the original Henry Erben design. A significant component of new pipe work with an additional console will be placed in the sanctuary. This will provide needed support for congregational singing, choir accompaniment, and be a comprehensive instrument to render the gamut of organ literature. Its beautiful case will be a stunning visual addition to the front of the Cathedral.

Those wishing to support this project or desiring more information are asked to please contact Rev. William Pape, rector at (518) 463-4447/email: ecathedr@nycap.rr.com


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