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St. Johns pipe organ installation begins

Work was underway this week on the initial stages of St. Johns Lutheran organ installation. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

"The time has come," St. Johns Lutheran proclaimed, "for a new organ."

The proclamation became reality this week with the "skins and bones" of the wind and pipe instrument arriving from Chicago. A crew of four Berghaus builders accompanied the instrument to complete the exterior casework.

Work began a year ago, woodworker Ron Skibbe explained of its evolution.

Positioning the wind chest and wind reservoirs, which control pressure, is the first component, he explained of the red oak structure.

The entire installation process is expected to span three months. Christmas carols are likely to be accompanied by its 1,454 pipes, twice the number of its predecessor.

Estimated cost of the instrument: $400,000.

Final voicing of the pipes, made of tin and lead alloys and wood, will be completed on site.

"It's the artistry that sets it apart," said Skibbe, who was accompanied by a pipe tuner, general handyman/ "organ guru" and finishing expert.

The crew was expected to return to the "windy city" Friday.

The pipe organ will have two manual keyboards and a pedal keyboard.

A musical instrument digital interface will be installed which allows the organ to be pre-recorded. Contemporary musical instruments may be connected to the organ.

There will 610 pipes in the great division, 732 in the swell division and 112 in the pedal division.

Fifty-six of the present pipes, plus chimes, were deemed adequate for refurbishing.

The full pipe organ is unique to the community, committee chair Carolyn Spanger said.

St. Johns holds a proud tradition of presenting fine music; the organ is a means of continuing the legacy.