Once in a generation, a congregation may have the privilege and responsibility of choosing a new organ for its church. That time came for St. Paul’s Ivy in 2002 as our aging Reuter organ was failing. The Rector formed a small committee to investigate alternatives. We began by obtaining evaluations of the Reuter by three specialists, who were unanimous in their recommendation to replace the old organ as continued use would require a new console and expensive replacement of leathers, outmoded circuitry and more. Once we had decided to look for a new instrument, we requested recommendations from the specialists, contacted churches that had purchased new organs, and listened to organs in other churches throughout Virginia. After developing a rough budget and sense of the size and type of organ we wanted, we contacted several organ builders endorsed by the American Guild of Organists.
We had bids from three builders when an organist from Richmond mentioned Schoenstein. We had not considered this company as it is located in San Francisco and had no organs in Virginia churches. Because they were currently installing an enormous organ for use by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, we assumed Schoenstein would not be interested in a relatively small project. However, when we contacted Jack Bethards, President of Schoenstein & Co., he responded enthusiastically and quickly scheduled a visit. We liked his suggestions and took a field trip to hear a Schoenstein organ in Washington D.C. The sound was sublime – rich and full without overpowering the space – so we visited two other Schoensteins in the Washington area. Excited but nervous, we requested a bid. To our delight, Schoenstein’s tonal design was perfect for our Anglican liturgy, the 18-rank size appropriate for our modest country church, and their bid was lower than any of the others we had received. We knew we had found the right builder for our new organ. After signing a contract in the Fall of 2003, our organ was installed in the winter of 2005.
Thank you to the parish of St. Paul’s Ivy for supporting the music program and for providing such a marvelous instrument to the community. May it always be used for the glory of God.