John Brombaugh & Associates Pipe Organ,
Opus 22, 1979; enlarged 1989.
The Christ Church Brombaugh pipe organ has been a centerpiece in the Pacific Northwest music world since its installation and dedication in the fall of 1979. It immediately captured the attention of organists worldwide and the hearts of area music lovers and continues to inspire listeners with its beautiful singing tone and radiant tonal color.
On October 19, 1979, our magnificent hand-crafted pipe organ was dedicated during a festival Eucharist. Through the vision of church leaders and Director of Music Ministries, David P. Dahl, the instrument was commissioned from the renowned American organ builder John Brombaugh & Associates of Eugene, Oregon. The instrument is designed after 17th- and 18th-century models from Europe’s Golden Age of Organ Building. Housed in a free-standing case made from hand-planed white oak and western cedar, it is adorned with hand-carved pipe shades of yellow cedar. The case design is a modern adaptation of the famed 1483 organ by Lorenzo di Giacomo da Prato, still in use in the church of San Petronio, Bologna, Italy.
Keyboards, made from cowbone and ebony, are connected to the valves (pallets) under the pipes by slender wooden “trackers.” This historic mechanical action provides a direct and sensitive control over the key action for the performer. A single wedge-shaped bellows, located at the side of the organ, supplies a traditional flexible, “living” resilient wind. Electricity is needed only for the small blower and light bulbs illuminating the music desk.
The organ is voiced with Brombaugh’s vocale tonal ideal, in which both blend and tonal color are optimally realized in a vocal manner, partially accomplished by the ancient practice of using hammered, high-lead-content pipework. The sound is enlivened by the rich acoustical environment of our 1969 building, designed by award-winning architect, Paul Thiry.
Since its installation, hundreds of recitals have been performed on the organ by local, national, and international artists. Begun in 2001, Third Fridays at Noon is a year-around organ recital series that features monthly 40-minute programs. A major organ recital is also presented each year as part of Music at Christ Church, our annual concert series. The Brombaugh organ has been featured in national and regional conventions of The American Guild of Organists, The Organ Historical Society, The American Institute of Organ Builders, and the Westfield Center.