Photos 3: Cathedral of the Scottish Rite, Saint Louis, Missouri
The historic 1924 IV/53 Kimball Symphonic organ console, 143 stops, Organ Historical Society citation 2003, at the Cathedral of the Scottish Rite, Saint Louis, Missouri. This is a fully enclosed and expressive instrument of over 3,500 pipes plus traps and tuned percussions.
Sitting at a colossal affair like this you get the sense that playing a pipe organ isn't merely an esthetic experience -- it isn't just something you do because you like it -- but it's attached to something sublime, something profound. It's something that can open the gates of heaven before any and all listeners who have an open heart.
Restoration of instruments like this one isn't merely a matter of giving to a noble project for that space exclusively, but it's something more broad than that. It's supporting great organ music which spans hundreds of years, and this music will be heard by countless numbers of people, indefinitely into the future.
The author of this blog was first given opportunity to play this incredible instrument just before he arrived at the age of 20 years, and this experience made an indellible impression upon him. He was awestruck by its size, beauty, expressiveness, wonderful color stops, its incredible range of sounds which exceeds a full symphony orchestra, and that it's voiced to speak with the power of an organ more than twice its size. This instrument represents a style of organ building and manifests a quality of construction that we are not likely to ever see again. In this instrument, against a background of foundation tone and an 8 rank string chorus, is placed a wealth of soft effects and orchestral color, all fully expressive from top to bottom. It was the sound and full expressibility of this instrument which inspired him to write his major collection of organ compositions which have been made available on this web site as an unusual free download [See menu bar, Free Stuff, Catalogue of Works].
Imagine the thrill of being seated at a truly musical instrument like this in an auditorium which seats 3,400 people, drawing a big combination, playing something on it that you yourself composed for it, and hearing this tremendous wall of sound in all of its guts, fire, and fury come roaring like a tidal wave out of this instrument, some of it from a chamber located 58 above feet above the center floor of the auditorium, some of it from a chamber located 170 feet away above a corner balcony, and some of it from the main chamber facing you from high above your head on your own balcony. You haven't lived until you've heard a hair raising crescendo on the full length 32-foot Contra Bombarde stop in the Pedal division of this instrument, a stop which, if present at all, is typically unenclosed.
Save for another pipe organ of this size or larger with over 50 ranks under expression, there's nowhere else on the face of this earth where one human being can be seated at an instrument and have this amount of tonal spread, flexibility, expressiveness, and this amount of power.
Nothing can be even remotely compared with it. It's the top.