One-of-a-Kind Organ Debuts During Sunday Concert

MT. VERNON, WA (November 15, 2012) – Bethany Covenant Church will debut on Sunday its one-of-a-kind organ designed in part by its associate pastor of worship and the arts, patterned on instruments built by 19th century innovative French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

The organ will be dedicated during the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services, with a free concert presented at 7 p.m. that evening. Associate Pastor Randall Wilkens will perform – he helped design the organ, including its stops.

“There are many fine organs in America, but even many of the good ones tend to lack the range of sounds you need for 19th and early 20th century music,” Wilkens said. “That’s what has drawn me for a long time to Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Many of the sounds in our organ are sampled from recordings of Cavaillé-Coll’s original pipe work, and sounds like these give this organ its warm, smooth, melodic sound.

“At the same time, the organ does a variety of styles well,” he added. “It has the brilliance needed for Bach and other baroque composers and the power and clarity needed for leading congregational hymns.”

The organ has a terraced French console, also reflecting the design of Cavaillé-Coll. The custom-designed, digital organ is not a pipe organ, yet the sound emulates a pipe organ, said Wilkens. Manufactured by the renowned Allen Organ Company, the organ features four keyboards, 78 draw knobs and 34 speakers that are powered by a 34-channel audio system.

One of the organ’s distinct features is its versatility, Wilkens said. While considered a classical organ, a separate synthesizer sound module is built into the organ, enabling the organist to access a variety of sounds especially useful for contemporary worship.

Wilkens developed the stop list of sounds in consultation with North Pacific Organ and Sound’s Ryan Dye. The stops were voiced on location by pipe organ expert Burton Tidwell.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to design and acquire a one-of-a-kind organ like this,” said Wilkens. “There is not another like it in the world.”

The Sunday evening program will feature:

  • Bach: Toccata, Adagio, & Fugue in C Major, BWV 564
  • Daquin: Noël
  • Bach: “Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter”, BWV 650
  • Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582
  • Widor: Symphony #6 in G Minor: I. Allegro
  • Franck: Chorale #1 in E Major
  • Alain: Litanies
  • Widor: Symphony #5 in F Minor: V: Toccata
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  1. Hey Randy, Can you bring that baby down to Midwinter Conference in Febuary? Always appreciate your organ work at our ECC-wide gatherings! Maybe you could at least bring a couple of those Sunday evening concert pieces with you. Blessings on this ministry of music!

  2. Faith begets faith; vision begets vision. I can remember when we hired you, and now this!! How wonderfully fulfilling are the ways of God working through us! We are so blessed, in so many ways, by so much given, through so many. Thank you, Randall! Russ Rehm

  3. I second the call for a webcast, or better yet, something on covchurch.tv for us all to watch at some point.

    1. Royce, if you ever get out this way, it would be wonderful to have you stop in and play it! Blessings!

  4. It’s great to see a church purchasing and using a new organ these days when I hear that so many congregations aren’t using their organs any more in worship. Thanks, Randall, for keeping alive the vision of church music that includes the mighty sounds of the organ!

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