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About the Organ at St. John's, Elora

The organ at St. John's, Elora, Ontario was originally built in 1899 by the Karn-Warren firm of Woodstock, Ontario, for St. Jude's Anglican Church in Oakville. In 1937, the two-manual tracker instrument was rebuilt by Casavant Frères of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec as their Opus 1546, providing entirely new windchests with electro-pneumatic action and a new console. Two new ranks of pipes were added, although all of the original Karn-Warren pipework was revoiced and retained.

 

When St. Jude's Church decided to replace the instrument with an electronic substitute in 1968, the organ was sold to St. John's. Ross Dodington, then working for the local Casavant representative, Alan T. Jackson, was assigned to dismantle the organ and transplant it to a new home. By the mid-1960s the small Breckels & Matthews organ at St. John's, dating from the early 1900s, was becoming increasingly unreliable due to its tubular-pneumatic action. With the arrival of a new rector in 1964, Robert Hulse, a high priority for church music was set, and it was decided to replace the ailing instrument. Hulse, assisted by Stuart Hunter, a parishioner and English professor, arrived in Oakville driving a canvas-covered hay truck to transport the disassembled instrument nearly 100 kilometres to its new home. Briefly delayed by a rainstorm, during which Hulse and the organ took cover under a viaduct on the highway, the instrument arrived in Elora early in the summer of 1968.

 

Fitting the instrument into its new organ chamber soon proved to be impossible, but within a week the organ chamber was expertly extended by five feet, accomplished by a team of parishioners and masonry workers enlisted by the resourceful rector. At the time of installation various tonal changes were made, with some ranks of pipes being moved, revoiced and repitched in order to expand the instrument's flexibility. Two new stops were introduced: a Mixture stop of vintage S. R. Warren pipework was acquired and installed in the Swell division, and a Pedal Principal stop using pipes salvaged from the dispersed 1924 Casavant organ at St. George's United Church in Toronto.

 

elora

The resulting instrument came to fruition through the skill and ingenuity of Ross Dodington and many volunteer workers who helped with modifications of the casework, toe-boards, resurfacing of the pedal keyboard and other carpentry work. Even the rector was seen in farmer's overalls applying plaster paste to fill in the deep nicking of the wooden flute pipes to achieve a more articulate speech. Ross and Linda Dodington liked Elora so much that they moved to the village in 1971, establishing their own pipe organ service firm in 1976.

 

Since the initial installation the organ has been carefully and lovingly modified and expanded by the Dodingtons. Some of these projects include the installation of a new Swell 4' Flute (1971), the creation of two mutation stops on the Great from re-scaled and used pipework (1989), updating the console with Solid State combination action and two digital 32' Stops by the Walker Technical Co. (1997), and the addition of a new Casavant Mixture and Trumpet to the Great (2004). The resulting instrument is a jewel of richness and color, aided by the church's remarkable acoustics. Through the many recordings of the Parish Choir and the Elora Festival Singers, countless CBC broadcasts, and prominent use during the annual four-week Elora Festival, this organ has probably been one of the most-heard in Canada. This CD represents the first solo recording of the instrument and can be purchased here >.

Specifications

Karn-Warren (1899)/Casavant Frères, Opus 1546 (1937) 23 stops, 24 ranks, 1,473 pipes

 

Great Organ (C-c4, 61 notes)
Open Diapason
Bourdon*
Principal
Nazard*
Fifteenth
Tierce
Mixture
Trumpet+'

 

8'

8'

4'

2 2/3'

2'

1 3/5'

(1 1/3')+ IV

8'

 

Pedal Organ (C-g1, 32 notes)
Contra Bourdon (digital)
Bourdon'
Principal
Stopped Flute (ext)
Contra Fagott (digital)
Fagott (Swell)
Fagott (Swell ext)

 

32'

16'

8'

8'

32'

16'

8'

trans

  trans

 

 

Swell Organ (C-c4, 61 notes, enclosed)
Stopped Diapason*
Viola da Gamba
Voix Celeste (TC)
Principal*
Koppel Flute+
Flute*
Mixture
Fagott*
Cornopean
Tremulant

 

 

8'

8'

8'

4'

4'

2'

(1 1/3') III

16'

8'

 

Couplers
Great to Pedal
Great to Pedal Super
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Pedal Super
Swell to Great Sub
Swell to Great
Swell to Great Super
Great Sub
Great Super
Swell Sub
Swell Super

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zimbelstern
8 Levels of Memory (SSL)
3 thumb pistons to Swell and Great/Pedal 3 General toe pistons

 

 

Great to Pedal reversible (thumb/toe)
Full Organ
General Cancel
Crescendo Pedal

 

 

 

 

 

 

*moved/re-scaled Karn-Warren pipework

 

 

+new Casavant pipework (1971/2004)

 

About the Parish

Founded in 1842, the parish of St. John the Evangelist worshipped in a frame church until the construction of the present edifice in the heart of the village in 1875. The architect was Henry Langley, a noted Toronto architect who designed many prominent churches in Ontario. The red brick Gothic Revival structure measures 84 feet by 57 feet, and the tower reaches a peak of 80 feet.

 

An early Rector was the Rev. John Smithurst, a first cousin of Florence Nightingale. Legend has it that the cousins fell in love but were forbidden to marry. Smithurst brought with him a communion set, a gift from Florence, as he made his way from England to the distant colony, which is displayed in the church. The church has played a substantial role in supporting education and culture in the village, having been involved in the creation of St. John's and St. Margaret's Schools (now St. John's-Kilmarnock School in nearby Breslau), and is a major venue for the renowned Elora Festival and Elora Festival Singers.

 

Music has long been important in parish life, and the Parish Choir is among the few fully professional choirs in Canada. When the Rev. Robert Hulse was appointed Rector in 1964, a boy's choir was soon founded by his newly-appointed Organist and Choir Master, Shirley MacRae. She and a number of talented organists contributed to the remarkable rise of the music program. The choir received the Healey Willan award granted by the Canada Council in 1989 and has produced a number of CD recordings, including two acclaimed releases on the Naxos label. Noel Edison, the esteemed Organist & Choir Master since 1984, is the Artistic Director of the Elora Festival and Conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

 

The entire album and individual tracks are also available for download on CDBaby.com, Amazon.com and iTunes