A Photographic Tour of the Organ

Photos and captions by Ross Wood, Associate Organist and Choirmaster

the organ console
The organ console
close-up view of keyboards
Close-up of the keyboards. The white buttons below each keyboard allow the organist to activate pre-set combinations of stops. The white tabs across the top combine sounds across keyboards.
pipes in Great division
Pipes in the Great division controlled by the middle keyboard, the sonic backbone of the organ providing the sounds most commonly heard in the accompaniment of hymns.
pipes in Positive division
Pipework in the Positive division controlled by the lowest keyboard, a lighter foil to the Great division above it.
pipes in Swell division
Pipework in the Swell division controlled by the uppermost keyboard, housed in an enclosure faced with large louvers ("swell shades") that open and close to control their volume.
louvers enclosing Swell division pipes
Louvers enclosing the Swell division pipes.
close-up of swell shades in louvers
The swell shades are unusually effective at the Advent, allowing the full resources of the Swell division to come and go with dramatic effect.
reeds stops
The reeds stops within the Swell division that provide the celebrated sounds of "smoke, then fire" as the swell shades open.
very scary view of ladder leading to entrance of Swell division
Organ installation and maintenance is not for the acrophobic. Here is the ladder leading to the entrance of the Swell division.
Pedal division seen from below (in extreme perspective)
The Pedal division, played by the feet, contains the largest pipes of the organ (up to sixteen feet tall) producing the lowest pitches.
close-up of pipe mouths
A close-up of the mouths of the Principal 16' pipes shown in the previous photo.
wooden pipes of Pedal Contrebasse 16'
Wooden pipes up to sixteen feet in height produce a somewhat different sound than their metal counterparts. Here the Pedal Contrebasse 16' seen from below.
view of wooden pipes from above
...and from above, with the arch of the north transept in view.
Bombarde 16' pipes
The lowest Pedal reed stop, the Bombarde 16'.
In April 2007 the tonal scheme of the organ as originally conceived by G. Donald Harrison and the Aeolian-Skinner firm was completed with the addition of the Choir Unenclosed Trumpet, a gift in honor of Edith Ho's thirty-year tenure as Organist-Choirmaster by an anonymous donor. Organ curator Jonathan Ambrosino oversaw the replication of a Trumpet stop from a closely-related organ, A-S op. 943 of 1936 in the Wellesley College Chapel. The pipes were made by A.R. Schopp's Sons of Alliance, Ohio, and voiced by Christopher Broome of East Granby, Connecticut. Joseph Rotella of the Spencer Organ Co., Waltham, Massachusetts, designed, fabricated and installed the windchest.
pipework in Pedal division
Higher pitched pipework in the Pedal division. Note that the pipes in the foreground have been recently restored.
view of trompette en chamade pipes
view of trompette en chamade pipes
The horizontal Trompette en Chamade, a gift in 1968 in memory of Ruth S. B. Dort, sits high above the west end of the nave.
In September 2006, new pipes were installed in the north gallery. The stop producing the lowest pitches on the organ, the Pedal Subbass 32', was left incomplete when the organ was built, stopping at low F. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor the lowest five pipes, down to low C, were added in 2006. Here they are in the process of being hoisted to their horizontal position in the north transept.

New pipes waiting to be installed.

Securing the pipe before hauling it up to the gallery.

Up it goes...

Starting to move the pipe into position.

Workmen in the gallery placing a pipe.
Also see A History of the Advent Organs.