Opus 116

Aug 19, 09:40 AM

Photo: St. John's Church following the November 2013 Storm courtesy of D.Meyer/Respublica ©.

The most recent tornado struck the building, it blew down much of the west gable, showering three or four tons of rock unto the organ. The 106 year old, 12 ranks mechanical organ was destroyed and Martin Ott was able to salvage 3 stops of the old organ for the design of a new mechanical tracker instrument, Opus 116 for St.John Lutheran Church.

Drawings: Opus 116 Courtesy of Scott R.Riedel. ©.

The contract calls for the new organ to be installed sometime between July and October of 2015.  The Congregation hopes to be worshiping in the church long before that date, hopefully by the end of the summer of 2014.

- The organ casework shall be out of oak and finished with clear lacquer.

- The manual divisions shall be under a common expression (swell box).

- The Principal 8’ shall be in the façade and made of polished tin.

- The organ console shall be attached to the organ case.

- The natural keys shall be covered with granadilla wood and the sharp keys shall be out of granadilla, covered with ivora (white).

- The organ blower shall be the blower from the previous Pfeffer/Kilgen organ.

Opus 116

Saint John Lutheran Church
New Minden, Illinois

This instrument is in its design-build stage.

The former pipe organ of St. John’s was almost completely destroyed in an EF-4 tornado that struck the church on November 17, 2013.  The organ, built under the name of George Kilgen & Son, was a 12-rank “tracker” (mechanical) action instrument that served the Congregation well for 106 years. It was dedicated on November 10, 1907, following the devastating tornado of June 7, 1907.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle!

St. John’s house of worship, built of local quarried stone, was dedicated in 1863.  When the most recent tornado struck the building (November 17, 2013), it blew down much of the west gable, showering three or four tons of rock unto the organ.  In spite of the damage to the instrument, Martin is determined to use three ranks (sets) of the pipes from the 1907 organ in the new organ for St. John’s.  “That is just one factor that made Martin’s proposal appealing to our Congregation,” comments Pastor Tim Mueller, advisory member of the St. John’s Organ Committee.  “He looked at the pile of pipes from the old organ that had been rescued from the dumpster and said, ‘Americans throw things away too easily. We can use some of these pipes.’  I watched him take a damaged metal pipe and pressed the dents out with his bare hands.  Whatever is missing from these three ranks, he will reconstruct and fill in the gaps.  He is determined to build an instrument that will last, not just 30 or 40 years, but for generations to come.”

The "Authenticity" of a tracker -action:

What else caused Ott’s proposal to rise to the top?  “We liked the authenticity of a tracker-action pipe organ,” says Mueller.  “Our house of worship is built out of natural stone.  It was here before any of us were born.  We are pleased that our church will once again be filled with the same sounds that have been heard in churches and cathedrals for centuries.  We visited the Martin Ott pipe organ at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waterloo and our organists came away describing it as ‘authentic’ and ‘straightforward.”

Because of his passion for building organs, Martin, who calls himself “semi-retired,” is willing to build a twenty-rank, mechanical-action organ for the replacement price offered to St. John’s by the insurance company.  To help keep the price within those parameters, the Congregation will provide some of the unskilled labor necessary to transport the instrument from St. Louis and install it in the balcony of St. John’s.

“When it is finished, it will be like the old organ in that only the blower and music-light will use electricity. Everything else will be powered manually.  These mechanical action organs have been known to last for centuries, and yet the newer ones such as Martin builds have light key-action touch that is easy on the organists.” comments Pastor Mueller.

Design to support congregational singing.

Most important of all, “Orgelbaumeister” (master organ builder) Ott was chosen because he is known to build organs that do well in supporting congregational singing.  “The congregation at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waterloo is known as a good singing congregation,” says Mueller, “and we know of vibrant and growing congregations that have turned to Martin to build pipe organs for their new churches.  His organs are known to be well-voiced to suit the space for which they are designed.  By this purchase St. John’s tells the world that we have something to sing about:  the gift of the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation that Jesus Christ has won for us by His life, death, and resurrection.”

The organ committee:

Other organ committee members are Larry Sachtleben, Dean Sprehe, and the three organists of St. John’s:  Grace Schuette, Robin Rhine, and Becky Brinkmann.  The Rev. Dr. Arthur Eichhorn, Pastor of San Salvator Lutheran Church, Venedy, IL and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, New Memphis, IL, served as a consultant to the committee. Eichhorn is himself a long-time organist and church music director.


17 Stops | 20 Ranks
Mechanical action