Pipe dream

When Morris Wise fired up the pipe organ, the whirr was gobbled up and subdued by the All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Kapaa.

But the organ pushed back as Wise’s fingers brought the pipe organ to life, its majestic voice resonating through the rafters of the small church.

“This is the only known pipe organ on the island that I know of,” said Wise, a baker with Ko Bakery and Hula Baby Biscotti. “The Lihue United Church has a Rogers (an electronic organ) with a rank of pipes, but this is the only true pipe organ I’ve heard of.”

Received in 1925 as a gift from Emma Wilcox, the organ has served the congregation since that time.

The free-standing organ —  an Austin Organ Company “Chorophone unit organ” Opus 1351 — is encased in a birch case features four ranks (Diapason, Bourbon/Harmonic Flute, Viole and Dulciana). Between 1982 and 1983, the pipe work was amended by Terrance Schenstein with all of the pipes replaced except for the lowest pedal notes of the Bourdon 16. Wise said the console was relocated to its present location during this work.

“It needs work,” Wise, a pipe organ technician, and former employee of Rosales Organ Builders in Los Angeles. “A pipe organ is about metal, wood and leather. This one is located so close to the ocean and the environment has deteriorated it to where it needs to be repaired.”

A benefit concert, the Aha Mele series, to help raise funds for this rebuilding project is scheduled from 3 to 4 p.m. today featuring Na Hoku award nominee Paul Togioka and the Alii Strings. A pre-concert champagne reception featuring Ko Bakery products is scheduled 2 to 2:45 p.m. followed by ticket holders getting reserved indoor seating.

Tickets to his event can be purchased online with a processing fee at www.allsaintskauai.org, or by calling the All Saints Church office at 822-4267.

David Murray of the All Saints’ Church, said the goal is to raise $150,000 to help rebuild the organ to its original condition. 

“A lot of the repairs have been stop-gap measures which enable the church to continue to use the organ each Sunday, but do not resolve the underlying major problems,” Murray said. “It is in great need of rebuilding and updating.”

Murray said the concert series features local, as well as special guest, musicians who have agreed to dedicate their time and talent toward the effort.

“In 1925, the Wilcox family gave a wonderful gift to the people of Kauai — a true pipe organ at All Saints’,” said Rev. Ryan Newman in an email. “It is our responsibility to continue offering the gift of organ music to Kauai. A rebuilt pipe organ at All Saints’ will allow the people of Kauai to experience organ music reminiscent of the great cathedrals of the world. In keeping with Wilcox’s vision, All Saints’ plans to extend to the community more opportunities to hear and play this one-of-a-kind musical gift.”

Wise said he heard the organ after “dropping in” on a service at All Saints’ Church. Armed with degrees in music and vocals and experience in pipe organs and working for a builder of organs, Wise said there is limited opportunities to use these skills, and jumped into the project of trying to rebuild the instrument.

Donations toward rebuilding the classic instrument can also be made by visiting www.allsaintskauai.org, or mailing a check payble to All Saints’ Church, P.O. Box 248, Kapaa, HI 96746 with a notation “Organ Fund.”


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