Music Ministry: New Organ for Dahlgren Chapel (Part I)

As I sit in my office on the side of Dahlgren Chapel and write this, several workers and craftsmen are busy building the new organ. Manufactured by the Schoenstein Organ Company of San Francisco, CA, this instrument is one of the crowning pieces of the  renovation of Dahlgren Chapel. The entire process of installation and operation will take several weeks, but soon the Masses at Dahlgren Chapel will be singing God’s praise with a new voice!

Organ ConstructionThis instrument will be known as the Lenowski Family Organ, given to the University through the generosity of the Lenowski Family. Campus Ministry is both honored and greatly blessed by the generosity of the Lenowski family, as it will enable us to raise our sung prayer to a new level for many years to come. Over time, this instrument will play an important role in the worship life and the musical life of our University. It will be one of the finest instruments in the region.

The process of building an organ includes several steps. It begins at the organ builder’s shop, inside of warehouse like building with a ceiling over two stories tall. It took 10 months to build the instrument – pipes (metal and wood), great and swell boxes, electrical equipment, wind lines, and console. Inside the warehouse the organ was completely assembled. It was then played and tested, before being taken apart and packed up to be delivered to Washington, DC. Since the arrival of the truck on January 20, the organ builders have labored long days to reassembly the exterior and interior, and add the “case”, which is the wood exterior of the building. The final result will be beautiful to the eye and the ear.

Once the various pieces are in place and the pipes are all installed, the process of “voicing” begins. In this process, Organ Construction (2)each pipe will be individually adjusted to produce the perfect sound for the Chapel. This is a process that is both scientific and artistic, and it is key to the beauty of the “king of instruments”, as the organ is known. We expect it to be playable around the beginning of March, so all are welcome to come and experience this new addition to our spiritual home.

Dr. James Wickman (new window), Director of Music and Liturgy