An already breathtaking structure, the Chapel of the Resurrection appears to be twice its size as work continues in the worship nave. As the window replacement and heating system installation continues, the third project, the restoration of the Reddel Memorial Organ is coming to a close. Standing in quiet observation over the seemingly more massive nave, the organ console remains an important part of the Chapel structure even without its pipes, which have been sent to Chicago for tuning and cleaning.
The presence of the translucent tarps hanging from the galleries located on either side of this main area creates an effect unlike any other. Although the nave appears smaller in width, this shift in spatial appearance focuses on its high ceilings, causing them to seem even taller than usual.
At the far end of the Chapel in the west gallery wall, the Meier Music Window casts unusually brilliant rays of light due to the dimmed ambiance of the nave. According to Chapel ministries, the window symbolizes music and its place in the life of a Christian and was designed by the Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, Minn. The vertical stained glass window reaches from the floor to the ceiling and faces the Christopher Center. Its multitude of colors vividly depicts the role of music in Christian life and features various instruments, ranging from a harp to a French horn.
Usually separating the 5,500 flue and reed pipes, the Meier Music Window accentuates the impressive nature of the Reddel Memorial Organ. In the midst of lingering dust hanging in the air and scaffold ladders flanking the sides of the worship space, the Reddel Organ appears to be even larger in size and more magnificent than usual.
The organ was dedicated in honor of the memory of Fred and Ella Reddel, who were strong supporters of the Chapel music program. Their son Fred Reddel VI, who was an active member in Chapel music groups, initiated their appreciation for the program. Built in the American Classic style, the organ was constructed by the Herman Schlicker of the Schlicker Organ Company, a German corporation based in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1959.
One of the specific qualities that differentiates an American Classic organ from other styles is its open case versus the enclosed cases of other organs. The Reddel Memorial Organ made history as it was designed in this style’s experimental phases. The organ has 103 ranks and is a four-manual console, meaning each set of keys controls a different division of the instrument, with pedal and 77 stops.
During its Sept. 27, 1959 dedication, the organ had 47 stops and 64 ranks until 1995, when Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd. of Lake City, Iowa, were contracted to renovate, complete, and expand the organ. This was the last time that the Reddel had undergone significant work.
These different divisions are comprised of two main parts: the pipes and its individual wind chest. The pipes sit on the wind chest, where air collects in preparation for the manuals to be played, triggering the pipe to open and the collected air to be released. The pressure from the increase in air volume in the chest creates a force, which then produces sound to be emitted from the pipe.
“The sound comes to you spatially,” said Lorraine Brugh, associate professor of music and director of Chapel music. “When you play on one manual there is a spatial as well as an acoustic difference in the sounds.”
The four divisions are identified by their separate names: great, pedal, swell, and positiv. The great is located at the top left corner above the organ console and the swell is directly above the great. The swell occupies the top tier on either side and below this division is the positiv, which can also be found on both the left and the right sides. On the right are the pedal and the solo. In terms of the restoration of the Reddel Organ, the pipes have been sent to a company in Chicago to clean the pipes in order to improve their overall sound.
While at this company, specialists will clean out the dust and debris and will tune the pipes in order to allow for the optimal amount of pressure for better tone and pitch. According to Brugh, this process will permit the pipes to “speak clearly.”
There are two different kinds of pipes: reed and flue. The reed pipes have a tuning wire, which affects the pitch in terms of the direction that the wire is adjusted. In contrast, flue pipes have scrolls or caps, which adjust the overall length of the pipes, also affect the pitch, depending on how elongated or shortened they are during tuning.
Executive Director of Capital Planning and Projects and Environmental Sustainability Fred Plant has confirmed that the organ pipes are expected to return July 23 with reassembly complete by about Aug. 4 and the organ voicing is to begin Aug. 5 or 6. With this process in its final phases of completion, the restoration of the Chapel is just one step closer to being finished.