Trinity Cathedral has long been known for its fine tradition of music. Ernest M. Skinner’s Op. 140 (1907) was the first organ built for the Cathedral and in 1977, a new D.A. Flentrop organ was installed on the west wall of the nave. The Skinner was abandoned and eventually removed in 1997.
A Unique Project
When Todd Wilson became Director of Music in 2011, he felt strongly that there should be an organ speaking from the original chamber space near the ornate choir stalls. Aeolian-Skinner Op. 1188 was purchased, and pipework from Skinner Op. 245 was secured for eventual use in a unique project that would return an organ to the front of the Cathedral.
The resulting instrument does not fit cleanly into any traditional category of organ building. It is not a rebuilt instrument, nor is it a restoration or renovation. Neither can it be described as an Aeolian-Skinner or Skinner organ. Rather, Muller has developed elements of its historic lineage to form a new instrument with a broad spectrum of foundation tone, colorful reeds, a variety of flutes, and sublime strings. Creatively reimagined using vintage and new pipework, this “heritage” instrument is the type of pipe organ that Muller has produced with great success in a variety of projects
A Perfect Fit
The return of an organ to the cavernous chambers of the original Skinner posed significant challenges. The new, larger instrument now occupies a fraction of the original space and is situated in shallow chambers to maximize tonal egress. The larger pipes of the pedal division rest horizontally on the first level. The second level functions as a mechanical mezzanine for reservoirs and provides easy access to the manual windchests for maintenance. The uppermost level, with stone tracery aligned with the east clerestory windows, is home to the manual windchests. The Choir division returns to its original Skinner chamber.
“I saw the present Muller Company work miracles in reconstructing Skinner Opus 647 . . . and was confident that they would be able to provide similar results at Trinity Cathedral . . . That they have done.”
Todd Wilson, Director of Music, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
A Truly American Instrument
The Aeolian-Skinner console from Op. 1188 was retained. The cabinet was repaired and refinished to complement the furnishings of the Cathedral. Improvements include a new solid-state control system with remote tuning capability, Skinner-style bench with adjustable mechanism, replica interior components, and bone manual keys. Windchests from Op. 1188 were restored for the bulk of the Swell and Choir organs, while new were provided for the remainder of the organ.