The first quarter of 2015 saw the completion of pipe+digital hybrid organs at Simi Valley United Methodist Church and the St. Paul Catholic Newman Center in Fresno. Both projects involved adding a new three-manual Rodgers digital console to the church’s existing pipe organ.
Simi Valley United Methodist Church has a four-rank Moller organ that has served the congregation since the 1970s. The organ was moved into a new, larger sanctuary built in the mid-1980s. As of 2014, the two-manual console was becoming increasingly unreliable. A casual conversation between the organist and a couple members on the patio following services one Sunday in late 2014 blossomed into a campaign to raise funds for a new Rodgers console. Fundraising was completed in three weeks in February 2015 and the new console was installed in March in time for Palm Sunday and Easter.
The entire installation and interfacing to the pipe organ was completed in one week–the new Rodgers console was used, with the pipes playing, the very next Sunday after the old pipe organ console was used for the last time. The new hybrid organ has the equivalent of 50 ranks–a dramatic change from the original four ranks of pipes. The new organ also has an antiphonal division that enables the organ to surround the congregation with the sound of the organ in the hexagonal-shaped sanctuary.
Pastor Andy Mattick and Organist Leslie Frank guided the project from start to finish in record time, assisted by enthusiastic support of committee members Lew Fry (former pastor) and Helen Beebe.
For years, the pipe organ at St. Paul Catholic Newman Center in Fresno has been experiencing a failing wind chest that would eventually make nearly half of the organ unusable. In the face of such costly repairs to restore the organ, the decision was made to replace the old two-manual console with a new three-manual Rodgers console and interface to the usable portion of the pipe organ, thus significantly expanding the organ while retaining as much pipework as possible.
Organist Lynne Rodriguez is delighted with the tonal improvements the new organ provides, which, with the equivalent of 50 ranks is virtually unlimited in musical possibilities. With the additional built-in non-organ and orchestral voices, the organ is capable of supporting the entire scope of the Newman Center music program.
Dedication concerts are being planned for both of these organs.