St. James Episcopal Church, 205 N. Fourth Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is proud to announce the completion of their new Goulding & Wood pipe organ. After a lengthy construction and installation process, the organ will be played publicly for the first time during the 10:30am service on July 25, in conjunction with the annual St. James Day celebration.
The Goulding and Wood team arrived in Baton Rouge with the organ on Thursday, June 17, 2021. All ten tons of the organ were unloaded from the semi-truck with the help of the St. James team and 15 wonderful volunteers. Over the next week, the Goulding & Wood team completed the physical installation of the incredible new instrument. Next, a team of voicers arrived to tune and voice the organ, individually manipulating every one of the more than 2,500 pipes to create the most beautiful sound possible.
The brand new three manual (keyboard) instrument will include 42 ranks of pipes, exquisite new woodwork to compliment the chancel, and beautifully stenciled (painted) façade pipes (the pipes that are most readily visible while standing in the choir area). It will be a work of visual and musical art.
The organ itself has been tonally designed in what’s known as the “American Classic” style – a style that fits perfectly with the church’s style of English Cathedral music. It will feature lush, romantic sounds and delicate solo stops, all while being capable of a beautiful, mighty roar one would expect from an organ.
St. James hired Tipton and Associates at the start of 2019 to create a full set of plans that covered top to bottom and east to west (altar to narthex) restoration and renovation of the church building, including the repair of the existing organ. The priority throughout the planning process was the preservation and restoration of the historic beauty of the church. A committee dedicated to the organ was convened as it became clear that the current organ could not be properly restored and revoiced as desired. The committee recommended that a new organ be built for St. James, specifically designed for accompanying choral singing and leading the congregation in singing hymns and service music. After consulting with various industry experts, builders, and churches, the Indianapolis-based Goulding & Wood Pipe Organ Builders, one of the nation’s leading organbuilders, was selected to build a three-manual organ. While the majority of the church renovations were completed in January of 2021, the organ faced delays due to covid-related issues, until it’s eventual and highly-anticipated arrival in June 2021.
The meticulous process began in May of 2020 with the piece-by-piece removal of the 1975 Schlicker organ. While some of the pipe work was reused by Goulding & Wood for the new organ, majority of the mechanical pieces and pipe work were recycled by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. The utmost care was taken during the process in order to protect and package each of the thousands of pieces of the instrument.
After a temporary shutdown of the Goulding & Wood offices due to COVID-19, construction of the new organ officially began in July 2020 with the team taking final measurements of the newly-emptied chambers in the church as the the organ would eventually have to be fully assembled in Goulding & Wood’s shop in the exact configuration to avoid any last-minute problems with installation. The team then got to work on the inner-workings of the Opus 53, and pipe orders were made. The keyboards also began construction in the U.K. during this time.
By January of 2021, the façade pipes were in the process of being painted by an artist in northern Indiana, who would create a beautiful work of art to complement the space.
In May of 2021, St. James’ Director of Music Shannon Gallier visited the workshop of Goulding & Wood in Indianapolis to inspect the nearly complete organ and finalize tonal aspects with the staff there. While there, Goulding & Wood also hosted a highly-successful open house for local Indiana organists to hear and see the organ for the first time. The following week, the organ was dismantled and packed up for its trip to Baton Rouge.
For a tour of the ongoing work or more information, contact Shannon Gallier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. James Episcopal Church is a welcoming, downtown congregation with a mission to serve Christ through worship, fellowship, education, and outreach to all within our reach.