St Joseph’s Dundalk December 2016
St Joseph’s Monastery and Church is the head of the Redemptorist movement in Ireland and underwent a program of major refurbishment to church and accommodation which concluded in 2018. Work on the church lead the way. The pipe organ had reached a stage where a major overhaul was the only way forward but funding a rebuild was beyond church resources. A digital organ was chosen for cost and also the ability to enlarge the West End gallery to accommodate a substantial choir that was crammed into a small space between the two sections of the instrument also on the gallery.
We spent a lot of time helping the church to decide on the selection of veneers and choice of draw knobs. They chose Kimber Allen stop knobs and the solenoids that allowed a ferrule to provide a contrasting white ring where the solenoid shaft passes through the jamb. The jambs, music desk and piston rails are in a burr oak veneer that provides a lovely warm colour contrast to the much lighter oak of the console main structure. Interestingly the church chose wood filled Fatar keyboards preferring the feel over the more expensive German UHT option we usually offer. We also added stringing to the key cheeks and a first for us stringing to the expression pedals as well!
Please read about the installation in more detail in our blog.
Trevor Clarke, Church Organist & Director of Music
The journey to our new Regent Classic installation began back in November 2014 when I suggested to our Administrator that our 130 year old Telford pipe organ was in need of a major restoration. Having been appointed organist in St Joseph's less than 12 months previous it quickly became apparent to me that we had two major issues that needed resolving - the organ needed major work to fix the many voicing and winding problems and the choir needed more space as it had grown quite considerably in a short time. The layout of the pipe organ casework and choir in the west end gallery made the accommodation for the choir very cramped.
It was agreed that we would initially talk to some pipe organ companies about a restoration. With quotations ranging from €500,000 - €750,000 ex VAT, I was soon advised by the administrator that such a large sum of money was simply not available. This led to a radical rethink and we decided to look at other options, including digital organs. Continuing with the organ as it was was simply not viable.
Budget restrictions and the obvious advantage of being able to remove the vast majority of the old pipe organ to free up a huge amount of space it was felt that a digital organ would probably be the best option for us - if we could find one that was good enough!
Having extensively researched these instruments over a period of time and based on my own experience of playing them I settled on one of two companies - Allen or Makin/Copeman Hart . I had played many Allen organs over the years (although I was sceptical about whether they could meet my requirements) and colleagues of mine had recommended Makin/Copeman Hart and I had subsequently travelled around Ireland to play some of these instruments.
However, it was on a trip to visit Allen in the U.K. that things changed. I agreed to pay a visit to Viscount whilst in the U.K. (although not really considering them for the job based on my experience of playing many, admittedly older, Viscount instruments in Ireland) I was introduced to their patented 'Physis' technology. This was a game changer. I was brought to hear one of their organs in situ in a church setting and I was blown away by the authenticity of the sound. This, finally, was a digital organ that sounded like a pipe organ.
The wonderful sound of the Viscount Physis organ coupled with the ability to design an organ to my exact requirements both in specification and dimensions made Viscount a clear winner. This, coupled with hearing a similar organ in our church over the Christmas period 2015, convinced us that Viscount could provide us with the organ we wanted for a fraction of the cost of a new pipe organ. So in Spring 2016, we agreed to purchase a custom built Viscount Regent Classic Organ.
Having taken time to agree the restructuring of the gallery, in November 2016 work began with the dismantling of the old pipe organ and the installation of the new organ on our new choir gallery. The Regent Classic organ was delivered and seamlessly installed over three days without any issues whatsoever. The beautifully crafted console was matched by the glorious array of sounds from the vast array of purpose built speakers and the new organ played for the first time for the Christmas ceremonies less than 8 weeks after the gallery alterations began.
Since then the organ has been voiced over another three day period, and while we continue to fine tune the voicing of the organ to ensure that we get it just right, the feedback from choir, community and congregation in St Joseph's has been nothing but positive.
The small changes that we make to the voicing are so easily done thanks to the technology available to the organist and take a tiny fraction of the time it would take to make similar changes to a pipe organ. This allows us to ensure the organ is capable of fulfilling its varying roles of accompanying the choir, cantors and indeed large congregational singing.
We are extremely happy with our new organ and would not hesitate to recommend Regent Classic Organs by Viscount for any similar installations. Indeed, we have already done so on many occasions. Our organ is always available as a shining example of their work!
|Sub Bass||32||Double Diapason||16||Lieblich Bourdon||16||Open Diapason||8|
|Open Wood||16||Open Diapason I||8||Open Diapason||8||Gedackt||8|
|Open Metal||16||Open Diapason II||8||Lieblich Gedackt||8||Dulciana||8|
|Violone||16||Claribel Flute||8||Voix Celeste||4||Chimney Flute|
|Bass Flute||8||Harmonic Flute||4||Rohr Flute||4||Sesquialtera||II|
|Posaune||8||Sharp Mixture||III||Double Trumpet||16||Cor Anglais||8|
|Trumpet||8||Cornopean||8||Corno di Basetto||8|
|Swell to Pedal||Swell to Great|
|Great to Pedal||Swell Octave to Great||Swell Octave||Swell to Choir|
|Choir to Pedal||Choir to Great|