2012 in review and looking forward to 2013…

Contrary to my inevitably skeptical predictions, 2012 turned out to be a great year for the company, full of very gratifying projects. Early in 2012 we got to perform a long awaited console rebuild at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in downtown Charleston. It frustrated me for years that we had cleaned and revoiced the organ in 2000, and it sounded fantastic but the organ was held back by its antiquated pneumatic action console with a single level of memory. At long last we got to rebuild the console with 100 levels of memory which makes life easier for anyone who plays it. That wasn't all: while we were at it we added a stunning Solo Trumpet built by A.R. Schopps of Alliance, Ohio. Provisions were also made in the console for a six stop antiphonal division, complete with three pistons of its own!

Spring and summer saw us working in Huntington at Highlawn Presbyterian Church, just a couple blocks away from Community of Grace United Methodist, another one of our favorite jobs (the Moller organ which was relocated twice, finally ending up at the former Highlawn UMC building). The Highlawn Presbyterian organ is a very small Schantz organ installed in 1971. We first removed and rebuilt the console with our typical 100 levels of memory, eliminating the very slow and unreliable pneumatic system. Then in the summer we added four ranks to the organ: a Cornet of two ranks, a Celeste, and a Trumpet which plays in the pedal at 16' and the Swell at 8'. While it was a decent little organ to start with, it was certainly nothing spectacular. Now, the organ has the variety and power to be used for virtually any purpose, be it leading Highlawn's incredible choir or providing the most reserved accompaniment for communion, or anything in between.

After a bad bicycle accident in August which had me off duty for a couple of weeks, we were back to work renovating the organ at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church. We rebuilt the console and installed solid state switching for the sadly forlorn little Kilgen organ, providing it with 128 levels of memory, and adding functions which hadn't been seen in many years, such as functional couplers and a music rack light that worked. We also rearranged the pipes somewhat, so the organ could have a new Celeste stop in the enclosed division, and a new exposed section consisting of an 8'-4' Principal and 2' Super Octave. The result is a dead-on reliable instrument with pipes able to speak down the main axis of the sanctuary, enabling the organ to be heard by the congregation much more effectively.

2013 is starting off with lots of little projects, but some major ones scheduled. We are rebuilding the console for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Virginia, where the little Zimmer organ's switching system has been giving trouble for years. Cleaning the Swell division and some serious rearrangement of stops at Central United Methodist, Fairmont is on tap for January, and relocating the little Wicks organ at St. Christopher's Episcopal, Charleston will most likely take place in February. A complete cleaning and "straightening" of the organ at West Virginia University, Creative Arts Center is scheduled for summer 2013 but an exact date hasn't been set yet.

Kanawha Organ Works, 834 S. Walnut Street, St Albans, West Virginia 25177 304-727-5022