November 21, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

As our project with the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd nears completion, we scheduled an office tour today. I wanted the whole office to meet the organ specialists from LéTourneau, one of the premier organ builders anywhere. Their instrument has been many years in the planning, but the work to construct the organ began just this summer when the pieces were crafted from specialty materials in the company’s shop in Montreal.

Good Shepherd Organ in the shop.jpg 

This image from the LéTourneau Facebook page shows the Good Shepherd organ assembled in the Montreal shop.

This 32 rank organ is an electric slider, which means the instrument is a traditional organ, while the console controls the blower and pipes with electronic connections. The pieces of this organ, the company’s 131st instrument, were assembled and tested at the shop. The church sent its organist and others to check the completed organ before it was disassembled for shipping. The crew couldn’t begin the reassembly at Good Shepherd until the renovated interior was nearly complete. Air conditioning had to be able to keep a constant temperature and humidity, and there needed to be minimal construction dust in the space from here on.

With precise timing, the building was ready, and the pieces arrived just a few weeks ago. And after just over a week of work, the organ is already taking shape, the major pieces are now in place. The four-man crew was intently at work as we arrived, but graciously gave us a wonderful overview of this instrument and of organ assembly basics.

 Good Shepherd organ pipe.jpg

Assembly will proceed for at least another week, but then the most important phase begins. The organ will take at least two to three weeks to “voice.” This painstaking work makes sure each sound, each note, is properly heard in every part of the space. Once the organ is voiced, it still needs to be regularly tuned to keep the notes pure. The company’s website has a nice explanation of the major components of a pipe organ. And as our guides proudly explained, “all pieces of this organ are made by hand.”

The new LéTourneau organ is scheduled to be ready by Christmas. Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd is located at 3201 Windsor Rd, Austin, Texas.

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