Cathedral Organ Sounding ‘Exceptional, Brilliant’ at Rededication Ceremony
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
May 4, 2023
ROCKFORD—After nearly a year of undergoing significant upgrades and refurbishments, the Cathedral of St. Peter has its pipe organ back. The parish held a rededication organ recital on Sat., April 29 to celebrate the occasion. Bishop David Malloy blessed the organ and members of the American Guild of Organists, Rockford Chapter gave a recital to showcase the instrument’s improvements.
“The organ was originally installed in 1978, so it’s been 45 years which is usually around the time organs start to need a significant overhaul,” said Adam Singleton, music director at the Cathedral. Several areas of the organ were either overhauled or replaced by the Berghaus Organ Company of Bellwood. 
“One of the main issues was that the console, which controls pipes and volume was starting to fail,” he said. “The organ’s two divisions of shutters barely worked which made it difficult to control the volume. This lack of volume control affected how the organ would register on Sundays. Adding additional stops didn’t give the organ any additional depth, color, or brilliance, it just made it too loud for Mass.”
Not being able to set different instrumental combinations on the organ, Singleton said, was another problem remedied by the refurbishment. “When I would set a specific combination on the organ, sometimes it wouldn’t come up at all or an entirely different one would come up. This affected how the music would sound at Mass.”
The majority of work on the organ centered around renovating the console, keyboards, and pipes. Singleton noted that some much-needed additions to the instrument were also done. “The console was gutted and the keyboards, cables, wires, and mechanics were all made new. 
Most of the pipes were sent to the shop to be revoiced or tuned up which gave the organ a whole new sound,” Singleton said. 
The organ also received a new solid-state computerized Peterson system, an increase in memory, and an adjustable bench. “The increase in memory went from two levels to 129 levels,” Singleton said. “This allows multiple organists to program the instrument based on the music they are playing and have their choices locked in the memory. It makes it much easier for guest organists who play for diocesan events at the Cathedral.
Cathedral parishioners and the public got to hear the remastered organ at the rededication recital which featured musical selections played by members of the Rockford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Trish Rooney, an organist from Emmanuel Episcopal Church, performed Partita on ‘This Joyful Eastertide’ and noted a significant difference while playing. “The overall sound is much richer and the keyboard is silent. In the past, the keyboard would click and make noise but now, it’s very smooth. The capability now to set organ stops in the memory is fantastic, and it makes preparing and playing music much, much easier.”
“The sound is out of this world!” said Mack Austin, who attended the recital and cantors at Holy Family Church. “I heard much more clarity, richness, and versatility in the music than before the improvements. The tone and volume between soft and loud were much more controlled and sounded exceptional.”
According to Singleton, over $300,000 was budgeted for the organ upgrade but the parish only had to raise half of the funding. “When the previous rector at St. Peter’s, Father Stephen St. Jules, brought the project to Bishop Malloy’s attention, the bishop knew of a benefactor who wanted to donate half of the money. The parishioners too were very enthusiastic about raising money for the organ, and we see many blessings for our parish growing out of the ministry of this magnificent instrument.”


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