Music News & Reviews

Lexington church's new organ ready for its dedication

John Linker, resident organist at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, will play at the dedication of the church's new organ.
John Linker, resident organist at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, will play at the dedication of the church's new organ. Herald-Leader

After a four-part installation that took several months and its debut at Sunday services, the new organ at Lexington's Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd — which has four keyboards and 3,406 pipes — will be dedicated Friday with a recital.

The number of pipes on the Opus 50 organ is nearly triple that of the church's previous instrument. Jason Overall, president of Goulding & Wood Organ Co. of Indianapolis, which built the organ, says that will help the sound.

"Some would think three times the pipes means three times the volume, but this organ has equal volume to the last, and the extra pipes give it a deeper, richer tone," Overall said.

John Linker, resident organist at Good Shepherd, said he has noticed superior differences in the sound and performance of this organ. "The amount of versatility in this organ is greater than the last," he said.

"If you are used to having a Crayola box with the eight colors," he said, "then you graduate into the 32 colors and then the 64 colors. You are able to paint a musical picture with a wider palette of colors."

Also, he said, "This organ is able to more authentically perform more various periods of organ literature."

The old organ was specific to baroque music, so Bach and other older styles of music sounded good on it. The new organ is more of an "eclectic-style instrument," he said.

The $1.4 million project to replace the organ began a while ago; the contract with Goulding & Wood was signed in late 2011.

Although the organ is new, it doesn't look out of place. Roses and buttons carved into the dark wood surrounding the organ match the church's detailed woodwork. "The idea is to make it look like it was built intentionally for this place," Overall said. The Rev. Brian Cole, Good Shepherd's rector, said the organ also is a work of art.

Organs have been fixtures in Christian worship since medieval times. Overall said there was a connection between having a congregation of people singing and having a congregation of pipes. "The organ by origin of its vast resources can do something to fill the room and to lift a congregation (in) song," he said.

Friday's dedication service will feature performances by Linker; Owen Sammons, organist and music director at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Paris; and Schuyler Robinson, an organ professor at the University of Kentucky.

"We have lots of dreams about how to showcase it to additional organists and the local folks coming in months and days and years ahead," Cole said.

This organ will last without any significant maintenance for 75 to 100 years, Overall said, although it will need tuning a few times a year.

"Certainly our hope is this will be a generational instrument," he said.


Organ dedication and recital

What: Service and recital to dedicate new organ at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 21

Where: Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 533 E. Main St.

Admission: Free