Local News

Cathedral's organ a pipe dream for now

Posted July 26

— The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral may be open in Raleigh, but its liturgical services will lack a key feature for months.

C.B. Fisk Inc. is still crafting the pipe organ that will fill the 2,000-seat cathedral with sound, and the organ won't be in Raleigh until early next year. In the meantime, an electronic organ will be used to play hymns and accompany choirs.

The Opus 147 organ remains in pieces at C.B. Fisk's plant in Gloucester, Mass.

"We'll build the whole case, we'll build the console that the keys sit within, we'll make the pipes – pretty much everything," organ builder Dana Sigall said.

Project manager Greg Bover said the 58-foot-tall instrument will have four sets of keyboards and 61 sets of pipes.

"In total, there will be more than 3,700 pipes," Bover said. "We've got to build the organ here in Gloucester in pieces, then take it apart, ship it to Raleigh, and it will only be ever fully assembled when it gets to Raleigh."

Mechanical designer Rick Isaacs said the organ includes thousands of moving parts.

"What we are trying to do is create an organ that has enormous flexibility, from very simple and very quiet all the way up to very complex and very loud," said Bover, who has been working on the Holy Name of Jesus organ for more than two years.

The smallest pipes are about the size of pencils, and the largest are 32 feet long and "as big around as an oil drum," he said.

David Pike, C.B. Fisk's executive vice president and tonal director, said the organ will have "many voices."

"It's not going to be a homogenous wash of sound," Pike said. "You're going to have very distinct images from each of the different divisions."

Assembling the organ in the cathedral will take six weeks, and it will take at least another eight months to voice the pipes – to get them to sound just right.

"Nothing slows us down very much. Nothing daunts this company," Bover said, noting C.B. Fisk has thrived in a fishing town built on generations of hard work. "We expect it to be spectacular."

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