the Wicks Organ at St. FRancis de Sales

The present organ at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory was built for this church and installed in 1924 by The Wicks Organ Company, replacing an older, more modest 13-rank Pfeffer organ. Our goal is to repair and preserve the present 1924 Wicks instrument. It is a fine example of the tonal ideas of the Wicks Company of the 1920’s; and indeed the ideals of pipe organ building of that era. It is a very full specification of tonal colors, comprising the voice families of Flutes, Strings and Diapasons. All of the voices are designed as solo voices and used together to create an orchestral or symphonic sound.

The 1924 Wicks Organ

The 1924 Wicks Organ

History

The Organ has been used for almost 92 years with very few updates to its mechanical structure. At some point between 1934 and 1955, the Mechanical Relay, which controls the pneumatic operation of the valves, was updated. A new console added in the 1960’s, like its Relay counterpart, is also beginning to show signs of fatigue and failure. Considering the amount of time the organ has functioned, its mechanical parts are in quite good condition; however, after 92 years, the organ has begun a progression of mechanical failures that, if not seriously considered and addressed, will render the instrument beyond reasonable repair.

To the average organist, the organ is fraught with silent notes and, as of recent, ciphering notes (pipe valves that are stuck in the open position). In order for the organ to continue to be used, a very basic, yet necessary, repair must be made to the ciphering notes. Repairing one ciphering note will necessarily lead to others connected to it which are equally in need of repair.

The ideal situation is to pull the entire instrument out, replace the 1924 mechanics both in chests and in electrical system/console. It would be prudent to make any changes to the tonal design at that time, capitalizing on the opportunity to make the organ ready to last another 92 years!

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Restoration in Three Phases

Phase I    $49,000

Phase I of the restoration will include removal and re-leathering the pedal chests; refurbishment of the 16’ Trombone and 8’ Trumpet, and regulating the 8’ Cornopean; disconnecting the pneumatic expression motors and installing up-to-date swell shade motors; cleaning the instrument and taking inventory of the stops and missing/broken treble pipes. The organ will be playable again and will sound even better than it did when it was working. However, the electrical problems of the 1966 console and 1924 relay will remain. Many pipes will remain silent. (See Phase I for detailed line-item repair costs.)

Phase II   $186,000

Phase II of the continued restoration will involve addressing the electrical deficiencies of the instrument. The 1966 console will be replaced with a custom built console. The relay and electrical wiring must be brought up-to-code. The refurbishment of the wind chests must be completed as far as possible (new chests must be built for the great division).

Phase III   $85,000

Phase III will address the full potential of the instrument to complete the proposed specification; wind chests and pipework will be added to complement and complete the tonal design of the instrument.

 

Fundraising - Songs for Sale

In one of our many efforts to raise funds to restore the organ, we are offering songs performed by the Oratory's Choirs for downloads.

From August 18 to August 22, a new song will be offered each day for FREE download and an optional donation. Thereafter, the songs will be up for sale for $1.00 each. Please visit BUY MUSIC for future downloads, including today's free song.

 

FREE DOWNLOADS:

August 18: Domine Non Sum Dignus by Tomás Luis de Victoria

August 19: Kyrie, Orbis Factor

August 20: Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger/arr. Nick Botkins

August 21: O Salutaris by Lèo Delibes

August 22: Quid Retribuam Domino by Guy de Lioncourt

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