Through the gifts and hard work of many people, our sanctuary is blessed with a custom pipe organ, built in the traditional style by Johannes Klais Orgelbau GmbH & Co., in Bonn, Germany. The organ was built at Klais’ German workshop in 1985, disassembled and shipped to the United States, then reassembled on site in 1986. After 30 years of use, the organ underwent restoration. Click here for pictures of the restoration process.
For the organ enthusiast, read below details of our Klais organ and its builders:
The organ’s 29 voices are comprised of 42 ranks, for a total of 2,163 pipes, controlled by 29 draw knob stop controls.
The pipes are made of a variety of woods and different alloys of tin and lead, with generous amounts of tin being used. The various materials directly influence the kind of tone the pipes are intended to produce. All pipes are hand made and were voiced in the Christ Church Sanctuary by an artist voicer to fit its particular acoustics and musical needs. The pipes vary in size from approximately sixteen feet in length, with a diameter large enough to encompass a basketball, to less than one half inch long with the diameter of a thin soda straw.
Each organ division exhibits a useful balance of the four categories of tone normally found in the modern organ: Principal, flute, string, and reed. In order to further exploit the tonal ingredients a very few voices are made playable in both the Great and Pedal divisions.
The instrument is built with “tracker” action, that is, the keys are directly linked mechanically to the pipe valves of each division so that the player literally feels a greater sense of intimacy with and control of her instrument. The console itself is detached from the main case so as to give the organist a better perception of the balance of sound being produced. The organ and console cases are made of solid oak, lightly stained. The organ case supports the windchests and principal mechanical parts of the organ without the use of a separate building frame.
The carved pipe screens or shades are made of wood and are covered with 22 carat gold leaf.
The Bonn organ building firm Johannes Klais KG was founded in 1882 by master organ builder Johannes Klais, Sr. (1852-1925). Born not far from Bonn, he served his apprenticeship principally with Koulen in Strasburg. Study trips took him through South Germany, Switzerland, and France.
At first Johannes Klais, Sr., built sliderchests exclusively, with mechanical key and stop actions. Following the trend of the times he changed over in 1894 to cone-valve chests with mechanical key actions, and in 1897 changed again to building such chests with pneumatic action. He designed his organ cases himself in neo-romantic and neo-gothic style. They were made by his own specially employed artist cabinet makers and wood carvers.
Johannes, called Hans Klais (1890-1956), the only son of Johannes Klais, Sr., in 1921 took over the direction of the organization. Hans Klais learned organbuilding with his father. Hans completed a four year study of psychology, the psychology of sound, and art history. His study trips took him into many countries, but primarily to France where he became especially well acquainted with the magnificent organs of Aristide Cavaille-Coll.
In the 1940s the grandson of the founder, Johannes Gerhard, called Hans Gerd Klais, trained with his father in organ building, taking over management of the company in 1965. Hans Gerd became a member of the board of the Gesellschafter der Orgelfreunde (Society of Friends of the Organ), a board member of the Bund Deutscher Orgelbaumeister (Association of German Master Organbuilders), and was received into the Deutschherrenbund (Knights of the Teutonic Order). Under his direction, our pipe organ was designed and built.
Philipp Klais, the great-grandson of the founder, having grown up in the midst of the workshops, studied in Alsace, in Germany, and overseas. For some years he worked closely with his father, before he took over in 1995. Phillip works together with a young team, bringing fresh ideas and hands-on experience. The fourth Klais generation continues the commitment to build instruments of character and of high tonal and aesthetic standards.
Tracker Action – A purely mechanical action between keys and pipe valves, controlled mostly by the acceleration, velocity, and mass of the hand and fingers of the player.
Swell – The top keyboard of a two manual organ.
Great – The bottom keyboard of a two manual organ.
Swell Box – An enclosure of wood, concrete, or metal for the purpose of permitting the organist to control loudness by means of a swell pedal that opens and closes a set of venetian shutters in front of the pipes.
Rank of Pipes – A single row of pipes controlled by a stop.
Timbre – This is tone quality in its widest sense.
Swell Stop List:
- Gedeckt 8′ – A flute rank of metal pipes. The tone is not intense or loud. It blends well with softer stops such as strings or other flutes.
- Salicional 8′ – A string rank of metal pipes. It is the most common string stop on an organ.
- Voix Celeste 8′ – A string rank of metal pipes tuned slightly sharp to give an undulating effect with the salicional rank and a blending effect with the flute ranks.
- Blockflote 4′ – A metal flute rank used with other flutes or higher tonal combination.
- Principal 4′ – a metal rank of pipes, of softer foundation stop.
- Octavin 2′ – A foundation rank of metal pipes at the 2 foot level.
- Terz – A metal rank of foundation pipes that speak three notes above the key depressed, e.g. Middle C would sound at E.
- Nazard 2 2/3 – Another metal rank of pipes important for vitality of sound and most of all – unity of sound. It speaks at the notes one octave and a fifth above the keys struck. There is no practical limit to the varieties of effect that the Nazard can give to the organ’s tone.
- Dulcian – An imitative Reed, in timbre a reedy but not piercing tone. It is equally useful on manuals and pedals. It might be called a device for emphasis as well as an adjunct to the less bright flute tones of the organ. It is heard in Baroque as well as Classical organs of all sizes.
- Hautboise Orchestral Oboe 8′ – a rank of metal reed pipes, used in solo melodies.
- Scharff – A metal rank (mixture) of pipes with a sharp effect on the ear. This rank adds brilliance and is to be used with reeds or louder flutes.