Williamsburg Presbyterian Church
40 Stops, 51 Ranks, Across Three Manuals and Pedal
About the Organ, from the Builder
Williamsburg Presbyterian Church is located on the main street entering Colonial Williamsburg, directly across from The College of William & Mary. The original Church, built in the 1930’s and added to in the 1950’s, had become inadequate to meet the growing congregation’s needs. The former instrument, a modest mechanical action organ from the 1970’s, would have been too small and tonally limited in the new larger building. In 2002 the Church commissioned architect William Thompson, liturgical consultant Terry Byrd Eason, and acoustician Dana Kirkegaard, to design a new building, to not only meet the Church’s liturgical requirements, but also to be a buoyant environment for graceful musical expression. Our firm was selected to design and build the new organ, the 32nd of our firm’s manufacture.
One of the hallmarks of our tonal style is an enveloping warmth of smooth tone, in the context of an historically informed classic approach to the scaling and voicing of the pipes. The eclectic music ministry at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church demanded an instrument which could support congregational singing at all volume levels, “text-paint” the words with relating evocative sounds, accompany the choir in anthems of all historical and musical styles, and render musically convincing performances of the entire repertoire of solo organ literature.
To this end, we employ a classic discipline in the scaling of the pipes, but craft the sounds themselves in a more romantic light. Rather than build each manual division in its own different nationalistic style to achieve eclecticism, we thoroughly synthesize national and historic styles throughout every division of the organ. In this way, our instruments are at unity with themselves, and have their own distinctive musical personality, rather than become a jumble of un-related pipe divisions, unable to communicate across the English Channel – or the Atlantic Ocean.
People tell me that our organs have a very “familiar” sound which is unusually effective in its intensity and pervading power, even when playing softly. At the Dedication concert, played by Paul Jacobs of The Juilliard School, a ten-year-old boy was heard to say to his father: “The sound goes right through me!” What more perfect testament to the organ’s ability to be physical with its listeners can one receive?
The organ has 33 independent stops, across three manuals and pedal keyboard. Five more stops were originally prepared for future addition. These stops were installed and the entire organ re-balanced in 2019. The façade is made from pipes of the Pedal 16’ Open Diapason and Great 8’ Open Diapason. The case and console are made from 1½” thick solid walnut; the carved pipe shades in the pipe towers are made of basswood to offer a light, delicate contrast. – John-Paul Buzard
About the Organ, from the Organist
Music is central to the worship life of Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. At the crossroads of America’s colonial history, steps away from one of our oldest universities, Williamsburg Presbyterian Church is a vibrant, forward-looking worshipping community in a region which appreciates the arts and music. At the center of our music ministry, one finds a crown jewel of modern American organ building in our Buzard Organ, Opus 32.
I often say that “Any organ can sound soft; ours can be reverent. Any organ can be loud; ours can be grand.” Such is the distinction between an organ’s raw horsepower and its ability to convey emotion. Whether accompanying the choir, escorting a family into a memorial service or walking a bride down the aisle, our organ speaks as clearly to the soul as it does to the ears.
Williamsburg Presbyterian is a church which enjoys the singing of hymns. Our organ, combined with the excellent acoustical environment, is able to lead hymns such that all attendees, regardless of singing ability, are comfortable taking part in the rich tradition of sung hymnody. It speaks clearly to every ear, in a wide variety of tone colors without overpowering the room. The weaker singers do not feel exposed, and the stronger singers are not overwhelmed.
Built along with the new Sanctuary in 2006, the instrument was intentionally left incomplete. Five stops were prepared for installation at a future date. For many organs, this would be the end of the story. Why spend more money on an organ that already sounds great?
Given the instrument’s cornerstone position in the church, perhaps it is no surprise that in 2018, the congregation overwhelmingly supported its completion. Funds were raised and a contract signed. But most important, the church membership became enthusiastic about the project. Every week, someone would ask: “When are the pipes coming?” In the spring of 2019, the crew from Buzard arrived to begin the completion. Their skill and expertise were matched by their warmth and flexibility. Beyond merely installing new pipes, they rose to the challenge of leaving the organ “better than new.” Their genuine love and care for the instrument, even after twelve years, is evidence that they truly care about their work.
People sometimes ask “What is the lifetime of a pipe organ?” Well designed, well built and well maintained, through an annual tuning and maintenance visit from the Buzard crew, I expect our instrument to serve quite some time, likely even outlasting our current sanctuary building. It is truly more than the sum of its parts, more than a mere collection of pipes. Our investment is reflected in the hundreds of thousands of hymns led, the smiles of countless happy brides on their wedding day; the lessons taught to budding organists, the late-night practice sessions; the concerts and special programs. The kids asking if they can sit at the console during the postlude or turn on the Cymbelstern on Easter morning. Our organ stands ready to inspire for generations to come!
16′ Leiblich Gedeckt (wood & metal)
8′ Open Diapason (polished tin façade)
8′ Viola da Gamba (tin)
4′ Harmonic Flute, metal 1-6 from 16′
16′ Bourdon metal 1-6 from 16′
4′ Spire Flute
2 2/3′ Twelfth
1 3/5′ Seventeenth
2′ Fourniture V
8′ Tromba (Ped) (ext. 16′ Trombone)
8′ Major Tuba (Ch)
8′ Tuba Solo Melody Coupler
8′ Violin Diapason
8′ Stopped Diapason
8′ Voix Celeste (TC)
4′ Harmonic Flute
2 2/3′ Nazard
1 3/5′ Tierce
2 2/3′ Plein Jeu V
8′ Major Tuba (Ch)
8′ English Open Diapason
8′ Claribel Flute (open wood)
8′ Flûte à Bibéron
8′ Flute Cœlestis (Ludwigtone)
4′ Koppel Flute
1 1/3′ Mixture IV
8′ Major Tuba (high wind)
32′ Subbass (1-12 digital)
32′ Lieblich Gedeckt (Gt) (1-12 digital)
16′ Open Diapason (polished tin façade)
16′ Bourdon (wood)
16′ Lieblich Gedeckt (Gt) (wood)
8′ Principal (polished tin façade)
8′ Spire Flute
8′ Bass Flute (ext. 16′ Bourdon)
8′ Gedeckt Flute (Gt)
4′ Choral Bass (ext. 8′)
4′ Open Flute (ext. 16′ Bourdon)
16′ Trombone (wood)
16′ Bassoon (Sw)
8′ Tromba (ext. 16′)
4′ Clarion (ext. 16′)
8′ Major Tuba (Gt)
The organ has a full set of 16′, 8′, and 4′ couplers.