Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This morning I filled in as organist for a funeral at St. Jean-Baptiste Church in Warren, RI. Nice little church with side balconies as well as the choir gallery. This is actually the first time I stepped foot in that church. I got there about 50 minutes early, which gave me some time to practice on the organ there.

The organ was a 1949 Casavant Freres, Opus 1963. I've seen many a Casavant around here - from the small two-manual 1896-built tracker in the former Our Lady of Victories Church in Woonsocket to the 125-rank four-manual tracker at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence. I've also seen a fair share of three- and four-manual electropneumatic Casavants. However, this Casavant I played --- well, this is only the second I've seen of its kind (the only other Casavant unit I saw was at St. Joseph's in Attleboro, Massachusetts). It was a two-manual, four-rank UNIT. For those who don't know what a "unit" organ is - it's an organ where multiple stops combine into one rank. Stops borrow or extend from another, instead of using independent ranks (one for each stop). This organ has nearly thirty stops.

Here are the four ranks:
Open Diapason (stops: Great Open Diapason 8', Octave 4', Fifteenth 2' / Pedal Octave 8')
Salicional (stops: Salicional 8', Salicet 4' on Swell and Great)
Dulciana (stops: Dulciana 8', Dulcet 4' on Swell and Great)
Rohrflote (stops: Sw. and Gt. Rohrflote 8', I forgot what the 4' was named, Sw.. Piccolo 2', plus mutations)
The pedal stops draw from any of the four above ranks.
There are unison couplers Swell to Great, Swell to Pedal, and Great to Pedal.

Well, here's the music list - I had to bite a couple of bullets, typical funeral request line being open just about anywhere.

I heard the voice of Jesus say..."Kingsfold"
My soul is thirsting...Proulx/Gelineau
Alleluia...Mode VI
Hail Mary/Gentle Woman...Landry (requested)
People's Mass (Sanctus/Agnus)...Vermulst
On Eagle's Wings...Joncas (requested)
Ave Maria...Victoria (they asked for AN, not THE, Ave Maria. I don't default to Schubert. I do, however, manage to do the Victoria for melody and organ reduction quite well.)
Come to her aid...Smolarski/Old Hundredth
In Paradisum...Mode VII

Here's the scary part - the deceased was a 55-year-old woman who died of pancreatic cancer. That scared my wife to bits when I mentioned it, since I was hospitalized back in August for pancreatitis.

BMP (Brian's Medicine: Protonix)


Sir Monocle said...

I'm all to familiar with the UNIT. I played a 3r Wicks unit organ for years. It was awful. I spent two long years trying to get a decent instrument (Casavant, Schantz and Reuter were a few of the builders bidding on the project).

I went back as a substitute last weekend (I haven't played there in over 2 years) and found a new Rodgers.

Brian Michael Page said...

The last unit of any kind that I played was back in 1989 - a four rank Kilgen (that organ has been since replaced by a Rodgers Insignia). No couplers. No 2' stops of any kind. One reed, albeit synthetic (an "orchestral oboe", probably a string with a mutation-pitched flute). Dead-as-a-doornail acoustics, and mezzo-forte at best on full organ.