A note from our Music Director and Organist, John West
Hollywood UMC has a wonderful and inspiring history. This goes for our magnificent Casavant Organ, installed in 1929. The best way to introduce you to the Organ Renovation Campaign is to start with a little history.
THE ORGAN’S HISTORY
Our organ was originally constructed by the Casavant firm of Quebec, Canada in 1929, and consisted of four keyboards and approximately 2800 pipes! In 1971, under Richard Warne’s directorship, expansion began on the instrument to meet the needs of the growing church and community. Besides the console being electrified and the installation of additional pipework, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was installed to allow contemporary synthesizer sounds to be played. The organ received a new solid-state control system designed and manufactured by Classic Organ Works, also in Canada, with 250 memory levels.
LET’S TAKE A TOUR OF HOW OUR ORGAN WORKS
RESTORING OUR ORGAN – THE HEART OF OUR MUSIC MINISTRY
When I arrived I was struck by the potential possible, but also grieved by the extent of the failures in the organ. I had to “play around” these problems as much as possible to prevent disrupting a service. Concert presentations were completely out of the picture. So in 2013, after six-months of study, consultation with outside craftsmen, delving into the history, maintenance and embellishments on the instrument during the prior directorships, I came up with a proposal to make the organ sonically stable as well as appropriate for a 21st century audience.
Here were the conclusions:
1. Much that had been done to augment the instrument over the years remained unfinished and as previously stated, plans were incomplete.
2. The majority of the original leather material (from 1929) was still in use and far past its intended lifespan. This is the part that expands and contracts like lungs; it was in critical need of replacement.
3.Lack of timely follow through on the project went far past normal wear and tear, and we lost a great deal of functionality due to pneumatic leaks, mechanical failure and aging.
Our Senior Pastor, Board of Trustees, Business Administrator and Governance Board recognized the need and began taking steps in 2014 to bring the organ to optimal shape. Together, we created the Organ Renovation and Completion Committee, recognizing that the investment we make now will provide us with another 40-50 years of service before major releathering is needed. Dividing the project into 3 stages over the course of a roughly three years, we’ve steadily been making progress.
VISION FOR OUR MUSIC DEPARTMENT
My long term vision foresees the music department being highly active, vibrant and contributing significantly to the church’s growth. To do this we need a department, program and instruments of the highest caliber. Music which blesses and empowers the congregation and that people are eager to hear.
The goal of such a high caliber instrument and program is also to intentionally and actively draw the community in. This glorious building and instrument require large audiences to be of highest value. Besides our own choir, instrumentalists and church services, it’s my desire to see world class vocal, orchestral and organ programs coming here regularly to experience and utilize all HUMC has to offer.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
We are stewards of everything on this campus. To completely replace this organ would take a $1,300,000 – $1,500,000 investment. However, to bring this instrument back to optimum standard will cost approximately one-quarter of that amount. Help us take care of this musical treasure! The organ is an integral part of worship, providing a musically thrilling experience for which we can all be justifiably proud.