‘Test drive’ of new cathedral organ

The Opus 55 gallery organ on May 18, 2024, at the cathedral, after installation was complete. The organ has 4,336 pipes and 67 stops. The instrument is still being tuned and voiced by Juget-Sinclair technicians, a process that will last through mid-July. (Photo/Michael Mickle)

At Masses on June 22 and June 23, cathedral organist Daniel Sáñez took the new Opus 55 gallery organ at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, for a “test drive.”

Alex Ross, a technician and part of the Juget-Sinclair team responsible for voicing the organ, said one main goal of the “test drive” was to hear how the gallery organ sounded when paired with the smaller choir organ, which is located near the altar. The choir organ can be controlled from the gallery organ, and different stops can be played on each instrument, meaning the same notes produce two different sounds.

Ross added that the test confirmed their expectations that the gallery organ had been set at the right volume. It was the first time the Opus 55 had been played alongside a congregation in song.

“Apart from confirming our intuitions, we were able to give Daniel feedback on what the balance is like,” said Ross.

He likened the simultaneous instruments to a surround-sound system.

“In a home theater, you want most of the sound to be coming from the main source, and you just have a little bit added to give you that enveloping feeling,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to give you that spatial awareness.”

The new organ is expected to be dedicated this fall.


Read more about the Opus 55 organ at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond: 

Organ installation completed

First pieces of the organ arrive at the cathedral

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