OUR ORGAN GETS A MAKEOVER-
The church’s organ recently had some long-needed work done. It was badly damaged during Hurricane Hugo, and underwent restoraation at that time, some 20 years ago. However, over the years the windchests had begun to leak, batteries in the electrical action wore out, several successive winters of overheating opened cracks in some of the wooden pipes, and the motors which controlled the swell shades (louvers) in the instrument’s interior needed replacement. In addition to making needed repairs, a few tonal changes were made which help the overall sound of the instrument. The work was funded by a small part of the Thiele Bequest money and was done by A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Co. of Lithonia, GA. An earlier incarnation of this firm, Pipe Organ Sales and Service, had done the work initially after Hugo. While there are still some minor bugs to work out, and it needs a couple more tunings to be stable, some definite improvements can be heard now:
-- The overall cohesiveness of the sound (chorus) is improved.
-- The sound is a little brighter. (Also improved by cleaning dust out of the instrument)
-- The pitch was raised to the standard A=440. (Much better for playing with other instruments, including handbells). It had been at A=436, and on very cold days even A=434.
-- There is less “wind noise” – the hissing sounds that were the result of leaky windchests.
-- The overall pitch is more stable because of fewer leaks; also the overall wind pressure was slightly increased.
-- The instrument is able to get much quieter than before, because all of the swell shades now work. Crescendi and descrescendi are much more effective.
The attached pictures show the work in various stages:
#1 – The work began with removal of the pipes. This picture shows the “trays” – wooden boxes, which hold the ranks of pipes.
#2 – Wilson releathering the Swell windchest. He is gluing strips of leather on edges which leaked before. The neoprene which had been used after Hugo had collapsed and in some cases migrated, leaving voids in the seal. Leather is the standard material used for this.
#3 – Wilson and project foreman Pete Duys replacing one of the swell motors, which are on the ceiling of the chamber, quite a ways up. The mechanism for the chimes can be seen at lower right.
#4 – Completed, cleaned pipework returned to the Swell chamber (the part on the right as you face the organ)
This work will help to ensure that the organ works well for many years to come. I am happy to answer questions about it or show interested parties the organ interior.
Julia Harlow, DMA
Director of Music and Organist
Regular Choir and Bell Choir rehearsals resume in late August.
Meanwhile, feel free to join us on Sunday
mornings at 10:30 in the choir room for rehearsal of upcoming pieces
and warmup before the service
Choir rehearses Wednesdays 7-8:30pm. Bell Choir rehearses Wednesdays 6-7pm,
Both meet on Wednesday evenings at the church: Bell Choir from 6-7 pm and
Adult Choir from 7-8:30 pm. Prior singing/ringing experience is not
necessary, nor does one have to be a member of Second already. If you'd
like to participate for a short period of time, or just check us out, that
is fine too.
If you play an instrument and would like to use your gifts in the service,
please let us know. Playing melody instruments, such as flute, violin,
trumpet or piano or guitar are just some of the ways that members of the
congregation might participate in worship.
For any questions about musical happenings at Second, please contact Dr.
Julia Harlow, director of music, at firstname.lastname@example.org"
A New Hymn by Mary Edna Fraser and Julia Harlow
This special composition was commissioned for the Bicentennial Finale
service on Sunday, April 26, 2009. It was premiered during that service:
the congregation sang the melody, accompanied by organ and brass choir.
The words for the first three verses were written by Mary Edna Fraser. The
melody, harmonization and words for the fourth verse were composed by Dr.
Julia Harlow. The name of the hymn is "Wragg Square", which is the name
of the park in front of the church. Several other famous hymns are named
for their locations, e.g. Regent Square, Duke Street, Bunessan. If you
did not hear it, you might want to acquire a copy from Dr. Harlow. It was a
lovely piece and hopefully will be performed again and again over the next
The Adult Choir meets Wednesdays 7:00-8:30 pm in the Choir Room upstairs
behind the sanctuary, and Sunday mornings one-half hour before worship
(i.e. 10:00 a.m. June-August, 10:45 a.m. September-May). There is no
audition for the choir, but a pleasant singing voice and some ability to
read music is helpful. At present we have four vocal section leaders; three
are students at the College of Charleston, and help tremendously with
choir's music learning.
In addition to singing in the weekly Sunday service, the Choir presents two
smaller classical works per year with professional soloists and
instruments: one during Advent and one on Easter Sunday. Some works done in
the past include: Britten, "A Ceremony of Carols"; Buxtehude, "The Infant
Jesus"; movements from the Christmas and Easter sections of Handel's
"Messiah"; Vivaldi, "Gloria", "Magnificat" by Pergolesi; Coronation Anthem
#4 by Handel; "Magnificat" by Isabella Leonarda, "Requiem" by Faure, and
Masses by Schubert, Haydn (Sancti Joannes de Deo), and Mozart (K. 140 and
259), Bach, Cantatas #140 (Wachet auf) and #61 (Nun komm der Heiden
Heiland); and several movements from Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”,
presented in conjunction with Harborview Presbyterian Church in April 2009
Singers are welcome to join at any time, for the short or long term, or
even just to sing in the rehearsals and presentations of the major works.
For more information on the Adult Choir, or to join or observe a rehearsal,
please contact Dr. Julia Harlow as indicated below.
The Bell Choir is open to high school age and adults, and rehearses
Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:00 in the sanctuary. Prior musical
experience is not necessary. Ringers learn the rudiments of music, ringing
technique, and something of church music and hymn history. The Bell Choir
plays once or twice a month in the Sunday service. The church owns a three
octave set of Schulmerich handbells.
The first organ built for Second Presbyterian was by Henry Erben of New
York City. The splendid divided carved case (pictured above) and façade
pipes are all that remain of that instrument. The present organ, of three
manuals and 30 ranks, was built in the 1950's by the Moeller Organ Company
of Hagerstown, Maryland. The organ sustained considerable damage during
Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and was rebuilt by the A.E. Schlueter Organ Company
Special Musical Programs
For the past several years, Second Presbyterian has held a joint
Thanksgiving Service with several other churches in the area. There are
usually a few pieces for massed choirs, as well as anthems by individual
choirs. Please consult the church calendar for the date, time and location
of this year's service. Other special services with music include Christmas
Eve, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
We welcome the inclusion of instrumentalists (including piano) in the
service, both for solo offerings, and as part of the choral anthems. Please
contact Julia Harlow for further information.
Dr. Julia Harlow, Director of Music and Organist, began at Second in
February, 1997. Her undergraduate degree in Organ Performance is from the
University of Iowa (Iowa City), and Masters in Early Keyboard Performance
and Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance and Pedagogy are from the
University of Oregon (Eugene). She teaches eartraining, world music, organ,
harpsichord and music appreciation at the College of Charleston, and is
active in the Charleston music scene. She has been a coordinator of the
Festival of Churches/Choral Artists and L'Organo Organ series for Piccolo
Spoleto, and has performed many times in Piccolo over the past several
For more information: Dr. Julia Harlow, Director of Music and Organist,
email@example.com or 723-9237.
It is not necessary to be a member of Second Presbyterian Church to
participate in the music programs.