When Calvary began worship in its third building, it was deemed important to have a pipe organ in place to lead the music. This instrument was rebuilt in 1949. At some point a large, presumably used, console replaced the original one. By the late 1950s, the organ had again fallen into serious disrepair, with whole divisions becoming unplayable. During Howard Vogel's tenure a new organ was installed in 1962. Again, by the late 1990s the console, the keyboard and stop knob part of the organ, were in bad shape, needing either complete rebuilding or replacement.
Due to the cost and questionable wisdom of rebuilding what was basically 19th century technology, the vestry voted to purchase a new console, with solid-state works, and with digital electronic additions to the stop list. The cost of the console came in at just over $211,000, moving the console into the chancel came to $1,000, and installation adds another $35,400. While that seems like a large sum of money for “just” a new console, it is important to bear in mind that the cost of replacing a complete pipe organ the size of Calvary’s would be between $500,000 and $600,000. The existing console was rapidly becoming unworkable, with various stops, keys and controls dropping out of existence weekly. Scheduling certain pieces to perform for preludes or postludes became more and more difficult, since the tonal resources of the organ were changing as the console began to break down mechanically. An important solo stop might develop too many dead notes to be usable, or might no longer play at all. Some sections of the organ no longer coupled to other sections, making it difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to create a proper combination of sounds with which to accompany a given anthem. The shutters, which provide the organist’s only method of changing the volume of two of the divisions were becoming slower and less reliable.
It became a common occurrence to climb into the south chamber in order to reset a circuit breaker to revive the shutter motor in that division. One Sunday the organ refused to restart after the sermon, necessitating a quick trip to the basement of the church to check the main circuit breaker board. In 2002, Calvary was asked to host a member’s recital for the local American Guild of Organists chapter, but due to the unreliability of the console we had to turn them down. A real shame, since this is a beautiful building, with a fine acoustic which glorifies the sound of the organ.
The vestry approved the purchase of a new console, built by Robert M. Turner Organ Builders, one of the finest console manufacturers in the country today. It was installed during the summer of 2003.