Getting a ‘Tune Up’

Ohio Wesleyan’s Klais Pipe Organ Undergoing Restoration
Andreas Brehm, left, and Georg Stahlmann of Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn, Germany, are working to restore Ohio Wesleyan's Rexford Keller Memorial Organ. They expect to complete the donor-funded project in April. (Photo by Mark Schmitter '12)

Andreas Brehm, left, and Georg Stahlmann of Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn, Germany, are working to restore Ohio Wesleyan’s Rexford Keller Memorial Organ. They expect to complete the donor-funded project in April. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

Ohio Wesleyan University’s 4522-pipe Rexford Keller Memorial Organ will be silent for much of this semester as it undergoes a $525,000 donor-funded restoration.

The results will be music to everyone’s ears, with the addition of 122 new pipes and three “voices” to the instrument.

“This organ, with new shiny tin pipes, is really stunning,” Robert Griffith, the university’s organ professor, recently told The Columbus Dispatch. “It is a magnificent sound.”

Faculty member Robert Griffith plays the pipe organ prior to it being dismantled for restoration. (Photo by Paul Molitor)

Faculty member Robert Griffith plays the pipe organ prior to it being dismantled for restoration. (Photo by Paul Molitor)

The organ was built in 1980 by Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn, Germany, and a team from Klais arrived earlier this month to dismantle, clean, restore, and enhance it. They anticipate completing their work in April.

Following the cleaning, the pipes will be placed back into the organ stop-by-stop. The voicing will be done by Klais expert Andreas Brehm. The project will ensure that each stop is “speaking” correctly and at the proper volume for its Gray Chapel home in University Hall.

As part of the project, the Klais team also will add a Bombarde Division to the organ. The Bombarde Division is comprised of two Trumpet stops of 16-foot and 8-foot pitch with hooded resonators. They will not be visible from the auditorium but will generate what’s been described as “a glorious tonal excitement heretofore unknown” from the instrument.

Read more about the restoration in the January 10 Dispatch article, “Ohio Wesleyan’s mammoth organ to glow after $525,000 restoration.”

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