KAPAA — If only the organ could talk — oh, the stories it might tell of its 90 years’ residence at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, said the Rev. Ryan Newman.
“The organ has long been considered the royalty of musical instruments, and rightfully so, because it takes up all the sounds of creation and gives resonance to the fullness of human emotion, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation,” Newman said. “By transcending the merely human sphere, music evokes the divine.”
Newman was speaking Sunday during the decommissioning of the Austin Pipe Organ donated by Mrs. S.W. Wilcox in 1925, and the blessing of a grand piano which was shared by Mary Lardizabal.
Sunday also marked the launch of a capital campaign to reconstruct “Kauai’s only pipe organ.”
“For the past two years, the Vestry and the Organ Committee of the church have been working together to develop a vision and to discern whether we had the feasibility for this project to succeed,” Newman said. “With a generous lead benefactor gift from the Henry Digby Sloggett Memorial Fund, our dream is now well on its way to becoming a reality.”
The pipe organ, the only one on Kauai, is a unique feature of All Saints’ Church and aa popular part of the church’s worship services and community outreach program, Newman said.
“Unfortunately, age and the tropical environment have taken its toll on this beautiful and historic instrument,” he said. “The pipe organ’s various wood, metal and leather parts are deteriorating. Routine maintenance and minor repairs are now unable to stop the inevitable finale of the current pipe organ’s lifespan.”
Reconstruction plans call for enhancements to the sanctuary and the adjoining spaces to support the pipe organ’s functionality and the future vision of the music program.
“The future of All Saints’ is to be a cathedral for the people of Kauai — a center for worship, education and the arts,” Newman said. “Rebuilding Kauai’s only pipe organ is a vital component to All Saints’ realizing its dream to serve God by serving God’s people on Kauai, both those who call this island home, and those who visit our beautiful paradise.”
The All Saints’ Church is working with Rosales Pipe Organ Services of Los Angeles. Manuel Rosales has taken an interest in the All Saints’ project because of its uniqueness and the historical and cultural implications of rebuilding the island’s only pipe organ.
Rosales and his team are planning to rebuild a one-of-a-kind custom organ which will honor both the Hawaiian culture and the rich liturgical tradition of All Saints’ Church.
Morris Wise, an owner of KO Bakery on Kauai and All Saints’ member, is a former colleague of Rosales and is volunteering to serve as the senior project manager and organ consultant for the church.
“Recognizing the legacy of this precious gift, All Saints’ has made the bold decision not only to rebuild and renew the organ, but also to enhance the instrument and make it better and larger, including cultural aspects never before considered for an organ, such as Olelo Hawaii and English language for nomenclature,” Wise said.
While the organ is being worked on, All Saints’ will have the use of a grand piano — bearing characteristics such as keyboard keys nicked by Hurricane Iniki — which was shared by Lardizabal and blessed during the decommissioning of the pipe organ.
“We will be using the piano, primarily,” said Hank Curtis, the director of Music Ministries. “There are digital keyboards out there which can produce sounds similar to the pipe organ and we might use them to enhance the musical presentations.”
Once the organ project is completed, anticipated to be before the 2018 Easter services, All Saints’ hopes to host a summer internship program for organists in high school or college.
The All Saints’ Episcopal Church was founded in 1924 and moved to its current location in 1925.