The pipe organ project at First United Methodist Church of Hurst has been a most interesting journey that started in 2003. Under the leadership of Dr. Michael McKee and Minister of Music Greg Shapley, along with organists Dong-ill Shin and Yoon-Mi Lim, we initially discussed the design of a brand new pipe organ for the sanctuary. Later, Rev. Shapley then asked us about the possibility of repurposing a vintage Casavant organ.
The timing was perfect, as we were actively seeking for a new home for a virtually untouched Casavant organ built in 1958 for a large church in Montreal. The instrument was sitting idle in the decommissioned church. Its fate was in jeopardy, as the building was to be transformed for secular use. Thanks to our numerous discussions with the organ committee and visits to the church in the last years, we were able to determine rapidly that this organ was a good “match” for First United Methodist Church.
The organ was dismantled by Casavant personnel in early summer 2012. In the next months, the organ was thoroughly cleaned and refurbished in Casavant workshops in Saint-Hyacinthe (Québec), Canada. The original console was rebuilt with solid-state switching and multilevel combination systems, and relocated on a new moveable platform. The original windchests and wind system were re–leathered. The expression enclosures were reconfigured for installation in the already-prepared organ chambers. New blowers were installed in the separate rooms located under the two organ chambers. In April–June 2013, the organ was installed and tonally finished in Hurst by Casavant personnel.
Tonally, the organ was a good example of Casavant’s work in the American Classic style. This was one of the very first organs designed by Lawrence I. Phelps during his tenure as Tonal Director of Casavant (1958-1972). The completed organ, which has 42 ranks of pipes on three manuals and pedal, combines the best tonal resources of the Casavant organ, along with the visible pipe division installed at FUMC Hurst in the late 1990s. Some modifications and additions were done to enhance the instrument’s tone palette, and to adapt it to the needs and space of First United Methodist Church.
We at Casavant are truly honored to have been entrusted with this commission, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the people we have worked with in the last ten years, for their confidence and outstanding collaboration during the entire process. It is our hope this instrument will not only serve this congregation, but will also become a tool for outreach to the community at large.
Vice President, Casavant Frères