Rodney Levsen, President of the Levsen Organ Company, attended the July 13, 2017 stated meeting of the Session to make a presentation and answer questions. He appraised the organ in early June, determining that it is a very good organ with “a clear sound and great variety of tonal colors. The organ plays well and has few issues.” But it does need some attention! Mr. Levsen estimated its replacement value at $350-400,000 and stated that with proper care, it would be in good shape for 35+ years.
Mr. Levsen recommended the following:
- Start a Regular Care Program ($800 per year). This would include seasonal tuning (spring and fall) and repair of minor issues, as well as the lubrication of the blower to keep it in good condition. We signed a contract and the organ was tuned in July.
- Clean the Organ ($16,500). This is a thorough cleaning that has not been done since 1963. It involves removing and cleaning all pipework, cleaning the exterior and interior of the console, wiping down and cleaning the chests, organ equipment and casework, and tuning the organ. Linty dust allows moths to lay eggs and damage the pipes. Plaster dust is alkaline and can eat up certain pipe materials. They recommend having the organ cleaned every 15-25 years. It would take about one week and should not interrupt a Sunday.
- Rebuild and Digitize the Console and Relays ($71,070). The console would be taken back to the factory and everything except the shell, keys and foot pedals would be updated (some of it is 106 years old!). Digitizing would allow the organist to transpose by pushing a key and to record music prior to a service that could be played by simply pushing a button. It also would allow the console to be easily moved anywhere in the sanctuary.
We initially contacted Levsen to find out about moving the console from the choir loft to the other side of the chancel, which would give the front row of the choir needed leg room.
- Moving the Console ($10,100). This would provide and install a new main cable and the labor to move and hook up the console. Mr. Levsen said the current wiring insulation is cotton and wax and does not meet code. Installing a new main cable would take care of some of the wiring but not the wiring in the console itself.
At the meeting, Mr. Levsen stated that if we chose to have the console rebuilt, that would eliminate the $10,100 cost of moving the console. If we decided to have the organ cleaned as well, this would save 25% ($4125) of the cleaning cost ($16,500) for a total cost of around $84,000.
We have approximately $60,000 in the Farm/Music Fund (one of the original gifts in this fund was for maintenance of the organ).
We invite your comments and questions, and especially your prayers, as we discern together the faithful next steps with our organ.