Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
Central Massachusetts Pipe Organ Specification Collection
OF ST. PAUL
Worcester, Massachusetts USA
Ian Watson, Director of Music & Organist
EP & DE IV/108
RUSSELL & CO. PIPE ORGAN BUILDERS
Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a grand, American Gothic structure, seating 1,200 people. The building has superb acoustics, with approximately six seconds of reverberation and a even response throughout the frequency spectrum. In 1997, John Sittard, the Director of Music at St. Paul's at that time, was charged with the task of overseeing the renovation or replacement of the Cathedral's two instruments.
The Gallery instrument of 49 ranks was a 1952 Casavant rebuild of an earlier Johnson organ. Casavant provided all new mechanism while retaining most of the Johnson pipework. Some of the Johnson pipework was rescaled and additional ranks added in keeping with the tonal thinking of the day. In general, the existing foundation stops were rescaled to be narrower while mixture scales were increased. A number of tapered ranks were added both as foundation stops and as mutations. A new Pedal 16' reed and Chamade were also added. A low cost organ case, reminiscent of speaker enclosures, was provided to hide the organ. While adequate for accompanimental functions, the organ lacked the ability to lead a large congregation as well as the resources necessary for the performance of organ literature.
During the 1960's, the Cathedral underwent a number of changes consistent with the reforms of Vatican II. The choir was brought to the front of the church and a new Wicks instrument of 13 ranks was installed in the right front corner of the nave near the choir. A new Wicks console was provided which was capable of controlling both instruments. The Wicks instrument, voiced gently in a typical mid 60s neo-baroque style, was suitable for accompanying a small choir.
In the ensuing years, both instruments were allowed to deteriorate. Forty-five years of city air had taken its toll on the Casavant’s organ leathers and the Wicks console and relays were failing.
At the outset of the project, a number of goals were articulated:
A brief description of the work follows.
resulting instrument combines the best work of Johnson, Casavant
and Wicks in conjunction with our own work to create what is essentially
a new instrument, ready for the task of making magnificent music
through the twenty-first century.
1999 Region I AGO Convention
Contact Webmaster at