St. Paul’s Organ . . .

St. Paul’s sanctuary organ was custom designed and hand-built in 1989 by J.W. Walker & Sons Ltd. of Suffolk, England.  When first built, St. Paul’s was in the midst of a $4.2 million expansion project and nearly one-third of the organ was left incomplete due to a lack of funds.

In 2005, the church raised the necessary funds to refurbish and complete the organ. In late June 2006, the organ was disassembled and silenced. It was completed and re-dedicated on Sunday, October 8, 2006. Complete, the organ is one of the premiere English pipe organs in Southeast Michigan, featuring three manuals, 42 stops and more than 3,000 pipes.

“The Walker mechanical-action organ at St. Paul’s is a treasure,” says Marilyn Mason, university organist and organ department chair at the University of Michigan School of Music. Mason served as consultant to St. Paul’s and Walker back in 1988 and 1989 when the organ was designed and first in-stalled. “It is a splendid instrument, crafted with variety in the various ‘stops’ or ‘registers,’ and has a beautiful tone.”

J.W. Walker & Sons, Ltd . . .

While J.W. Walker & Sons Ltd. of Suffolk, England, traces its roots back to the 16th Century, it was officially named for Joseph William Walker in 1828.

The company has built mechanical-action pipe organs for cathedrals, music schools, churches, and even royalty. And while it’s not possible to count the number of organs the company has built and installed from Australia to Japan and Norway, it is in excess of 2,000.

The company’s organs range from the gallery organ at St. Martin in-the-Fields in London, England, to an organ in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England, to the organ in the town hall in Adelaide, Australia.   Perhaps the oldest surviving Walker organ is a small chamber organ dating from 1832, now in the company’s possession. The latest?

If you’re sitting in St. Paul’s Sanctuary in Rochester, Michigan, you just may be enjoying our organ now.

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