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Church pipes in new organ from Canada

POSTED: October 13, 2007 5:05 a.m.

The sanctuary of Grace Episcopal Church is covered in boxes of tin pipes and sections of white oak in all shapes and sizes.

Soon, all of those pieces will fit together to form a handmade pipe organ weighing some 26 tons.

"This is a grand thing, not only for Grace Church, but for Hall County," said David Brown, the church’s organist and director of music.

The church paid Casavant Freres of Quebec, Canada, $1 million for the custom-built organ. It has three manual pedals and three keyboards and, when finished, will have 47 rows of 3,000 pipes. Casavant organs last 80 to 100 years, Brown said.

Tymen Devries, an organ technician helping to assemble the massive instrument, said once all of the pieces come in, putting it together "is just a big puzzle."

When the congregation moved into its current building in the early 1990s, Brown said church officials wanted to purchase a pipe organ. They had been using an electric organ that "sort of ran its cycle."

The new organ "will just consume that whole space" in the back of the sanctuary, Brown said, and will fill the sanctuary with a "full, grand" sound.

While construction is going on the congregation is meeting in the church’s Parish Hall. Brown said he hopes to resume services in the sanctuary at the beginning of December.

Devries said that building organs is "an old-school craft" that takes a certain amount of versatility and talent.

"You can’t be afraid of heights," he said. And, "You have to be able to demystify the musical side of things."

Brown said the organ will enhance worship in several ways. It will help him play the liturgy better.

Also, "People will be singing to the sound of acoustic pipes rather than the roar of speakers," he said. "This tool will allow me to do my job in a way I absolutely couldn’t before."



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