The church was in the main path of the disastrous 1999 Clarksville Tornado and lost all of its buildings. There was a long period of recovery for Madison Street United Methodist Church. Among the other major losses was the church's Jardine Organ which had served the church since its installation in 1893. The organ was no longer in its original state, it had been rebuilt on many occasions but was still loved and cherished by this congregation. It is thought to be the last organ built by the famous Jardine Organ Company. There was not enough rmaining of the organ to be worthy of consideration for the foundation for the church's new organ.
The Building Committee contracted some knowledgeable people to draw initial specifications for a new organ and these were sent to a number of organ companies for their comments and bids. A small committe formed of church musicians, staff, and Building Committtee members auditioned several instruments after reviewing the comments and bids returned from organ builders. After undergoing this process and a visit to Chicago to hear two Rieger-Kloss organs, the committee decided to commission Rieger-Kloss Organ Company to build their new organ.
Early in the process of recovery, the architectural firm of Everton, Oglesby, Askew Architects was engaged to draw up plans for rebuilding the church. This firm was already well underway with plans to rebuild by the time Rieger-Kloss arrived on the scene. There was already space allowances for the organ on the long axis of the room, above the choir loft. The Lawrence Kirkegaard Company of Illinois had been contracted as acoustician. Because of the urgency of time, Rieger-Kloss was to design and build an organ to fit into the plan that was already on the move with only minor changes.
William E. Gray, Jr. Rieger-Kloss representative in Design and Sales, was assigned to coordinate and guide the organ project, as well as, to set out the organ specification of stops, guide the visual approach and work with the church committtee, musicians, and architect to see this project through to a successful conclusion. The specification was immediately revisited and redrawn by Mr. Gray and in consultation with the church musicians, Merrill Davis, artistic director of Euro Musik and Daniel Angerstein who directed tonal consultation throughout the project. Church music staff members, Luke Churchill, Director of Music along with Jill Whittinghill, Associate Director of Music, were actively involved in the musical planning of this instrument. The specification of this instrument matured and was dramatically changed from its original concepts.
It seemed that a grand organ case was demanded by this room with its very high ceiling and the large cubic space. Mr. Gray worked with Marcel Kolarz, the Rieger-Kloss architect to design an organ case that would include 32´ pipes in the façade. Proportionally, it seemed far more appropriate to the scale of the room than smaller organ cases both visually and musically. The magnificent organ case stands three stories tall above the choir. The organ possesses three complete 32´ ranks of pipes ~ a rank of 32´ Open Metal Pipes in the façade, a rank of 32´ Stopped Pipes made of wood and a rank of 32´ Contra Bombarde Pipes (reed pipes). The organ now soars above the choir loft on the long axis of the room, giving it the best possible musical position in the room. Although not the largest organ in the area, it possesses many very large and high quality pipes not generally present in an organ of its size nor do they exist in most of its larger neighboring instruments in Middle Tennessee. Emphasis was placed not on building the largest organ in the area but rather building an extremely high quality instrument. The specification (stop list and disposition of voices) was greatly reworked and simplified to make the instrument easily understood by visiting musicians. Also careful redesign changes were made to make it capable of playing almost any literature demanded of it.
The first requirement of this instrument was to play the liturgy of the church, accompany great hymn singing, to provide magnificent choral accompaniments for all age voices and to inspire the worship service. There is not a voice in the organ that might not be used in a regular worshsip service but it is also capable of playing a fabulous organ concert. It has been designed as an instrument of distinction, not to copy any other organ, although many influences historically are present. For instance, there is a Grand Choir Resonance Division School of organ building, the only one of its type in the Southeast and only a handful of examples in the entire USA. This opens up a tremendous number of extra tonal colors that are possible in this instrument.
The chief engineer for this instrument was Oldrich Hajek, the wood carving by Petr Brodak, the tonal finishing by Frantisek Kutalek and Tomas Fafilek under the direction of Daniel Angerstein. Many others were part of the building and installation team including, Karel Uryga, Miroslav Kanok and Ondrej Trumpes, each one playing a major role in the success of this wonderful instrument.
This instrument will have a lasting influence on the cultural life, not only of Madison Street United Methodist Church, Clarksville, but will spread far beyond. It will inspire and influence young people for generations to come while offering great inspiration to those who worship at Madison Street United Methodist Church each week. May it always be used to the Glory of God.
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