Cathedral Organ Refurbished and Sounds ‘Warmer’
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
April 13, 2023
ROCKFORD—Music director Adam Singleton was happy to be back playing the organ at the Cathedral of St. Peter two weeks before Easter.
When he arrived close to three years ago, he realized the instrument was not in the worst shape, but not in the best of shape either, he says, adding that it was “at that age (about 40 years) where work needed to be done.” The two main issues, he says, was that the console was outdated and the expression (or swell) shades “barely worked.”
Rededication Organ Recital April 29
The Rededication Organ Recital will take place on Saturday, April 29, 7 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Peter, 1243 N. Church St., Rockford.
Performers will include various members of the Rockford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome.
The console, the part where the organist sits and controls the stops, keyboard, and pedalboard, now has a new keyboard and all new stops, he says, adding, “The only thing original in the console is the shell.” (An organ stop is what admits pressurized air to a set of organ pipes. The organist can turn them on or off, controlling the air to selected pipes.)
A few new stops were added, including two foot stops on the pedal, Singleton says. 
The shades are what look like blinds or louvres that muffle or mute the sound of the pipes within a box/section. Because those didn’t work well, Singleton says, “I couldn’t add certain stops to make the music more brilliant because it just made it too loud.”
Additionally, the pipes of the organ have all been “revoiced,” he says. 
“It now sounds a lot better,” he says, adding, “not that it sounded bad, but it was kind of a generic sound. Now it is a warmer sound, and it carries into the (church) a lot better than before.”
The organ was removed from the Cathedral last July. The work was ideally to be completed by Advent, Singleton says. However, what has become all-too-common supply chain issues, plus an accident that resulted in a car landing within the Berghaus Pipe Organ Builders building, located in Bellwood, delayed the work. A grand piano has filled in at the Cathedral over these almost eight months.
The renovation, Singleton says, is 97% complete and the final tweaks (one shade squeaks and one chime is not playing as it should) will be completed shortly after Easter.
Last but perhaps not least, a new, adjustable bench will accommodate taller and shorter organists.
The funding of all the work is the result of what Claudia Broman  calls, “a creative and generous initiative on the part of multiple, anonymous diocesan donors who contributed half of the cost, which was then matched by the parishioners.”
Broman, director of the Office of Charitable Giving for the diocese, notes that, “So many diocesan events (such as the Chrism Mass, ordinations, and annual Rite of Election) happen at the Cathedral and rely on the organ. Having the organ refurbished is not only a benefit to parishioners, it is a benefit to Bishop Malloy and all the parishioners in the diocese.”
She adds that the project really “is in support of the more than 400,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Rockford.”
Conversations about the need to refurbish the organ started during the COVID-19 mitigations, Broman says. “For us to be able to participate in (the April 29 organ concert) means we’re celebrating the organ and also to be able to come together to celebrate.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the desire of these generous people at the parish and outside the parish who have stepped up to assure that the liturgies at the Cathedral are amazing for years to come.”
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