Buzard Opus 14
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Immanuel Lutheran Church
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Completed 1995

23 Stops, 30 Ranks across two manuals and pedal

This instrument of 23 stops (30 ranks of pipes) across two manual and pedal is the fourteenth new organ built by the Buzard Pipe Organ Builders of Champaign, Illinois. The new instrument replaces a Wangerin Organ, built in Milwaukee in 1922, which was reworked and added to in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

If a new pipe organ was going to be built at Immanuel Lutheran church, it had to satisfy several criteria, not the least of which was that it would have to have an incredibly long life. The Organ Committee wisely didn’t want the Congregation to ever be faced with having to releather the entire organ’s windchest actions after 20 years. These “musts” were considered cornerstones of a new organ’s design.

These included:

  1. Simplicity of and good access to mechanical systems, for long life and ease of maintenance;
  2. Tonal “friendliness” and innate musicality of the sound for sensitive choral accompaniment and effective leading of hymn singing;
  3. Reuse of as many ranks of pipes from the old organ as could be artistically and economically responsible;
  4. Protection for the organ from dust and damage by housing the organ in a free-standing case (or cases);
  5. Sensitivity to the Church’s interior design and architectural style;
  6. The ability to easily move the console.

Substantive discussions with members of the Organ Committee and the Consultant identified the musical needs of the Church, both present and future and, reconciling them to the Church’s acoustical environment, we arrived at the tonal specification, pipe scaling and placement of the organ in the room. Upon hearing our English inspired instrument at the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the divine in Champaign, the Organ Committee enthusiastically wanted the Immanuel Lutheran organ to should just as warm and round in tone, but with the ability to be just a bit brighter for more appropriate rendering of baroque music.

Some members of the Committee were particularly fond of our Flute Celeste, a curious, delicate stop originally pioneered by the late Walter Holtkamp, Sr., in which two pipes are made in one pipe body. It is installed in this organ on the Great. Others thrilled to the smooth pervading power of the Major Tuba, solo stop voiced on high wind pressure, which we mounted horizontally atop the main case. Everyone wanted this organ’s full Principal chorus to be grand scale and exhibit a smooth, silvery tone quality, which it is and does.

Probably the most interesting visual and tonal feature of this organ is the location of the Great Division which is projected over the front edge of the balcony rail. Since the church’s acoustics are not as generous or lively as we would have liked, it was important to get the sounds which are used with the congregation as close to them as possible. The Swell and Pedal Divisions are housed in a taller case in the balcony.

The cases feature shapes and forms found elsewhere in the Church, and are made of solid white oak. The main case in the balcony has a three-sided central projection surmounted by a canopy and gold-leafed crown, in imitation of the reredos. We like to incorporate color into our cases in tasteful degrees, so the pipe-shades are of contrasting wood color and highlighted with gold leaf and red enamel, relating to other colors in the room. The front pipes are made of lightly polished English tin presenting an elegant, soft quality to the facade.

The consultant was the Rev. D.J. Dunlap.

– John-Paul Buzard