This is the historic Church of the Gesu on the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee, a
building designated as a State landmark and having a splendid acoustical setting. This recording of Toccata Festiva by Richard Purvis was made in 1992 on its then Kimball/Kilgen electro-pneumatic action pipe organ by then Principal Organist John Weissrock (1938-2018) and was posted on YouTube by organist William "Will" Schlueter, another
pupil of his.
In this photo the console of
the five-manual Baldwin C500 digital organ which Mr. Weissrock played and from which he taught while the Kimball/Kilgen pipe organ (center console) was down for renovation is visible in the lower left of the photo behind the balcony rail. This instrument
actually belonged to Mr. Weissrock, but he had it installed in the Church to serve as a back-up for the pipe organ. He expanded it with several add-ons which included an Ahlborn-Galanti Archive Classic module, a mixer board, and a very large external
speaker system equipped with several 18" Velodyne subwoofers each powered by a 1000W amp. Upon completion of the rebuild by the Schantz Company the Baldwin was disconnected and removed.
To learn more about this digi instrument, please use this link:
Baldwin C500 Specs
The original Kimball instrument of about 50 ranks was built around 1899 for the Studebaker
Theatre in Chicago. From the time motion pictures first appeared in 1895 and continuing all through the next decade the pipe organs being built for theatres looked like, sounded like, and were little different from church organs. This Kimball was
acquired by the archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1908 and moved to Gesu Church that same year. In 1955 it was rebuilt and enlarged by the Kilgen Company. Most of the early Kimball pipework was incorporated into the new and substantially larger Kilgen.
In 2011 the Schantz Organ Company finished a complete renovation of this organ, enlarging it to 115 ranks but retaining only about 50 ranks of Kimball/Kilgen pipework, whereupon it became the largest pipe organ in Wisconsin.
One notes in this recording the highly effective accents introduced, the impeccable sense of rhythm, the elastic tempos, the skillful changing of manuals
and stops including the strategic adding of a glorious 32' reed near the end, and everything kept clearly audible throughout, always listening for the listener and never leaving the listener behind. These were all trademark methods of Mr. Weissrock who
in 1960 was the first and youngest performer ever to win the National Organ Playing Competition in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and with whom Dr. Monrotus studied Organ in Milwaukee in 1998-2001.
Gone, but not forgotten.