Organ

The David John Falconer Memorial Organ

Murray M. Harris (1866-1922) is generally regarded as "the Father of Organ building in the West." Born in Illinois, Murray Harris moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1884. In 1889, Murray Harris relocated to Boston to receive   his training in organbuilding with George S. Hutchings, at that time one of the nation's premier firms. Harris returned to Los Angeles in 1894 both to represent and install Hutchings organs and to establish his own organbuilding business.

Murray Harris' first large organ in Los Angeles was of three-manuals and forty speaking stops for the First Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1901 he was awarded a contract for an instrument of forty-five speaking stops for Stanford University's Memorial Church (which remains intact today). From this prestigious beginning, the company grew rapidly, securing the contract for the Louisiana Exposition organ (St. Louis World's Fair) of 1904. At the time, this was the largest organ in the world, with one hundred and forty stops. (It would later become the nucleus of the organ in the John Wanamaker Store, Philadelphia.)

One of the last large organs Murray Harris built was for St. Paul's pro-Cathedral in Los Angeles in 1911. This edifice was built in 1889 as St. Paul's Church, the largest Episcopal Church in the city, sited on Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles (the current site of the Biltmore Hotel). Several features would distinguish the new instrument: concrete swell boxes and a movable console (both trademarks of the notorious English organbuilder Robert Hope-Jones); the doubly enclosed Echo, playable on the Choir but enclosed within the Swell box; the duplexing of the Swell reeds to the Choir manual for added flexibility; harp and chimes; and the provision of a 32' Bombarde, the first such stop to be installed in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles was growing at an unprecedented rate with churches and organbuilding prospering as a result. The Cathedral was no exception, and by 1920 the congregation had grown sufficiently to warrant a new edifice. On January 31, 1922, the organ was placed in storage awaiting installation in the new Cathedral. Old St. Paul's was razed later that year and a new St. Paul's - a simple elegant building in Spanish Style - was consecrated as the Cathedral in 1924, like its predecessor one of the largest Episcopal churches in the region.

During the years when Frank K. Owen was Organist/Choirmaster (1953-1974), the organ was well cared for. His admiration and fondness for the instrument assured the
preservation of the character of the original work. However, during the late 1960's and early 1970's a series of tonal changes were made in an attempt to keep the organ abreast of current tastes in organ tone. Fortunately, almost all of the original pipework was kept intact. In 1976 Carol Foster was appointed organist and choirmaster and she became determined to see the organ restored.

By 1977, the instrument's condition was dismal; only the original Great Tuba unit, an added four-rank Mixture and the Antiphonal section functioned with reasonable reliability. The organ was in the care of Manuel Rosales and the late David Dickson; they could do no more than to keep the reeds in tune and chase after the incessant ciphers. A meeting with Bishop Robert C. Rusack yielded a promise to form a committee which would investigate the possibility either of significant repair or a revamping of the instrument on new slider chests (the plan ultimately followed at St. James'). Unfortunately, the committee took no real interest in the effort, and no action was taken.

In late 1979 the Bishop announced that the Cathedral would be closed, apparently due to structural and safety considerations - to the great dismay of the Cathedral community. The Cathedral property was sold, and an urgency developed to evacuate the premises as
quickly as possible. The organ played its final service on Christmas Eve, 1979.

When no plans were announced to save the organ, Foster, Dickson and Rosales submitted a proposal to the Bishop to find suitable storage for the organ and to remove it and whatever else could be salvaged from the Cathedral furnishings to safe storage. Bishop Rusack accepted this proposal. Of the organ, all the pipes, the chest for the Tuba unit, the bellows, the console, the antiphonal section and its casework, and the chapel organ were removed. Since the main windchests were of redwood with ventil stop action, and had suffered from alteration and poor maintenance, it was decided not to save them.

For the decade-long period in which the Murray Harris organ was in storage, some members of the Cathedral Corporation searched for ways to dispose of the instrument. Several suggestions were considered, including donating it to a theatre, a stadium, even the Hollywood Bowl. Eventually, the Cathedral Corporation consulted Manuel Rosales, who suggested that another church in Los Angeles should be the first choice.

Concurrently with the Diocese's decision to dispose of the Murray Harris, St. James' Church on Wilshire Boulevard was beginning to realize that their 1926 Kimball was beyond reasonable restoration. By 1980 it had undergone the kind of tonal changes that the Cathedral organ had, but with so much of the original pipework discarded that the original character could not be recaptured. At that point the Diocese then approached St. James' and offered them the Murray Harris at no cost.

Realizing that this instrument would meet the needs of St. James' parish, David John Falconer, organist and choirmaster, became keenly interested in the project and obtained approval to seek funding for rebuilding it in St. James' Church.

He had been exploring a variety of options when he approached the Ahmanson Foundation, whose Managing Director, Lee Walcott invited him to submit a proposal. The Ahmanson Foundation chose to fund the project, and the Schlicker Organ Company of Buffalo, New York, was selected to perform the work. David Dickson, who knew and loved the Murray Harris organ, was at that time Schlicker's Artistic Director.

Concurrent with the developing plans for the organ, St. James' decided to improve the church's acoustics. Eventually, all asbestos-laden fiberglass was removed from the clerestory, and the plaster on the walls was increased in thickness, with particular attention paid to the chancel surfaces.

A plan was developed which involved incorporating all of the existing Murray Harris pipework, its bellows, the 1926 Kimball Echo organ, blower and two ranks of pipes. To increase the tonal palette, the plan included adding sixteen stops in the Murray Harris style. The instrument would also require new slider wind chests, expression boxes and a state-of-the-art console. Although this would result in essentially a new working mechanism for the organ, the tonal character of the Murray M. Harris organ would be retained and enhanced.

During the construction phase, the project underwent several changes. The Schlicker Organ Company began by constructing new slider windchests and a console; eventually, they would accomplish all of the mechanical work. Some delays occurred, including the untimely early death of David Dickson in 1991. The project was revived in 1993 when Austin Organs, Inc. became principal contractor. Under the revised plan, Austin would oversee the project and take charge of all voicing and new pipework, while Schlicker, under the direction of J. Stanton Peeters, would remain in charge of the mechanical aspects, console and installation. David A.J. Broome, Tonal Director of Austin Organs, collaborated with Manuel Rosales on the scaling and voicing of new pipework, with Broome taking charge of artistic direction at the Austin factory.

The organ arrived at St. James' in April of 1995, with on-site installation performed by Schlicker personnel. Tonal finishing began in August, with Austin's Assistant Tonal Director Daniel Kingman assisted by Christopher Smith of Schlicker. In the final weeks of the finishing, Zoltan Zsitvay of Austin joined Mr. Kingman. Manuel Rosales and Rosales Organ builders supported and assisted throughout the installation and tonal finishing.

Almost eighty-four years since the organ's construction, and sixteen years since its removal from St. Paul's Cathedral, the cultural community of Los Angeles celebrated a voice from the past which was created in our city, was saved through the efforts of many and now sounds forth again with restored majesty.
-- Manuel J. Rosales (ed. James Buonemani)


The rebuilt organ was dedicated in St. James' Church on All Saints' Sunday, 1995, and named in honor of David John Falconer, the organist whose vision and perseverance allowed it to be reborn in his church. Tragically, David was murdered in a convenience-store robbery in 1994, and never saw his dream fulfilled.

In the fall of 2000, the Ahmanson Foundation graciously offered to enhance the David John Falconer Memorial Organ with a gallery division of trompettes en chamade. Conceptually designed by organist James Buonemani (who succeeded David Falconer) and built by the Austin Organ Co. with the assistance of Manuel Rosales, this division consists of two ranks of chamade pipes: the Walcott Tromba (named after Lee Walcott, Managing Director of the Ahmanson Foundation whose support has been instrumental in rebuilding and enhancing the organ), playable at 16', 8' and 4' pitches, made of polished copper; and the Trompette des Anges, playable at 8' pitch, made of polished brass. This commanding division protrudes under the great West Window of the nave at the opposite end of the building from the Murray Harris organ.

 In the Fall of 2004 a further refinement to the organ was made. The Swell Cornopean 8' (originally built by Murray Harris) was moved outside of the swell division to function as an exposed reed in both the pedal and choir divisions. It is now playable at 8' and 16' pitches (with the bottom octave of the 16' drawn from the Great Double Trumpet). This new location for the Cornopean allows the pedal division to contain a bold medium-sized reed, especially suitable for the performance of baroque music. The Choir division also benefits from the Cornopean as an auxiliary ensemble reed and as a solo reed. The Swell division now has a new Trumpet 8' built by Christopher Broome.

Zamberlan Positive For the tenth anniversary of the organ, gifts from parishioners and friends of the parish together with the Ahmanson Foundation, raised funds for the addition of an Antiphonal Positiv Organ. Dedicated on November 13, 2005, an elegant gothic oak case with gilded carvings of basswood is now positioned high on the gallery railing at the liturgical West-end of the church. Built by the firm of J. Zamberlan & Company of Ohio, and voiced by Manuel Rosales, this division features a Principal 8' & 4', a Gedeckt 8', a Sptizflute 4' & 2' and a cymbalstar. In addition to Joseph Zamberlan and Manuel Rosales, others who assisted with the project were David Young and Walt Stromack of the Zamberlan firm (building and installation), Gebrüder Käs of Bonn, Germany (metal pipes), Ken Coulter of Eugene, Oregon (wood pipes), Fred Wilbur (basswood carvings), Sandy Jensen (gilding), Richard Houghten (wiring and computer integration), Gerald Lehmer (structural engineer), David Shaw and apprentices Carlos Castallon and José Garcia (gallery structural preparation, supports and electric), Kevin Gilchrist (façade concept and voicing), Michael T. Siliveria and John Thies (lighting), Mike Irizarry (artistic rendering), and James Buonemani (project concept, management and fund-raising).

 At present the organ contains over 5,000 pipes, 90 ranks and 4 electronic voices (pedal Lieblich Gedeckt 32' and Bourdon 32', chimes and harp). Manuel Rosales continues to serve as consultant on all additions and refinements, and it is with the gracious support of the Ahmanson Foundation and others that the organ remains one of the musical treasures of the West coast.

The Rodgers Electronic Organ

The gallery of the church also houses an electronic organ built by the Rodgers Organ Company in 1993. This organ was initially installed as a temporary instrument during the construction phase of the Murray Harris pipe organ. Upon installation of the Murray Harris organ, it was decided that the Rodgers organ should remain in the gallery as a separate instrument, and it has been particularly useful for accompanying the choir and soloists when they are located in the gallery. Although this instrument is entirely separate (with its own console in the gallery) from the David Falconer Memorial Organ, it can be played from the pipe organ's chancel console via midi through duplicate general pistons.
-- James Buonemani


The Specifications of the David John Falconer Memorial Organ


GREAT

Double Open Diapason 16'
First Open Diapason 8'
Second Open Diapason 8'
Gross Flute 8'
Gamba 8'
Doppel Flute 8'
Gemshorn 8'
Octave 4'
Harmonic Flute 4'
Octave Quint 2 2/3'
Super Octave 2'
Harmonic Mixture III-V
Mixture IV
Cornet V
Double Trumpet 16'
Trumpet 8'
Harmonic Tuba 8'
Solo Trumpet 8'
Clarion 4'
*Walcott Tromba 16'
*Walcott Tromba 8'
*Trompette des Anges 8'
*Walcott Tromba 4'
Tremolo



SWELL

Bourdon 16'
Horn Diapason 8'
Open Diapason 8'
Stopped Diapason 8'
Salicional 8'
Vox Celeste 8'
Octave 4'
Open Flute 4'
Nazard 2 2/3'
Flautina 2'
Tierce 1 3/5'
Dolce Cornet III
Mixture IV
Contra Fagotto 16'
Trumpet 8'
Oboe 8'
Vox Humana 8'
Clarion 4'
*Walcott Tromba 16'
*Walcott Tromba 8'
*Trompette des Anges 8'
Tremolo


CHOIR

Double Dulciana 16'
Melodia 8'
Open Diapason 8'
Dulciana 8'
Unda Maris 8'
Fugara 4'
Harmonic Flute 4'
Piccolo 2'
Sharp Mixture III
Double Cornopean 16'
Cornopean 8'
Orchestral Oboe 8'
Clarinet 8'
Harmonic Tuba 8'
Solo Trumpet 8'
*Walcott Tromba 16''
*Walcott Tromba 8'
*Trompette des Anges 8'
*Walcott Tromba 4'
Tremolo


1 ANTIPHONAL POSITIV

Principal 8'
Gedeckt 8'
Octave 4'
Spitzflute 4'
Spitzflute 2'
Cymbalstar
Tremolo

ECHO

Cor du Nuit 8'
Viole Aetheria 8'
Voix Celeste 8'
Vox Humana & Tremolo 8'
Tremolo


PEDAL

Lieblich Gedeckt 32'
Bourdon 32'
Open Diapason 16'
Violone 16'
Lieblich Gedeckt 16'
Bourdon 16'
Bourdon (Echo) 16'
Octave 8'
Flute 8'
Violoncello 8'
Super Octave 4'
Mixture VI
Bombarde 32'
Contra Fagotto 16'
Double Cornopean 16'
Trombone 16'
Cornopean 8'
Tuba 8'
Clarion 4'
*Walcott Tromba 16'
*Walcott Tromba 8'
*Trompette des Anges 8'
*Walcott Tromba 4'

Chimes
Harp
Cymbalstar (chancel)

1*Liturgical West End
*en chamade
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