When the designers of Saint Luke Church began planning in 1977, they envisioned a magnificent pipe organ gracing the sanctuary. It would be a state-of-the-art instrument enabling musicians to explore the full range of sacred music that is an integral part of the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Its music would help to enliven our spirits and unite us with each other and with our Creator in new and deeper ways. The instrument they foresaw could express music of great character at times that demand it.
In the spring of 1995, at the request of the pastor, the Rev. Martin McGuill, a group of Saint Luke parishioners formed the Pipe Organ Committee to achieve the goal of the 1977 planners.
Members of the committee were keenly aware of the declaration of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council that "The musical tradition of the universal church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art." The goal was to unlock the gates to this treasure with a fine pipe organ.
Every fine pipe organ is unique in that it is designed to the size, configuration and acoustics of the room where it will be located. Our designer Gottfried Reck, spent many hours in our church, listening and measuring and getting a sense of the character of the building before setting to work.
The 60 rank Steiner-Reck organ is the largest pipe instrument in the Northern Virginia area. The pipes are controlled by action that is both mechanical (from the main console) and by electric action from the moveable console, which allows for needed flexibility when working with ensembles, choral groups and orchestras.
Gottfried Reck's instrument was described by the Washington Post as being "a miniature cathedral of copper and chrome." Its visual appeal is only surpassed by its tonal beauty. The native German builder has produced an instrument that has qualities of both French and German traditions. The broad Montre chorus and French reeds on the Great, Swell and Pedal allow for a great amount of versatility in playing the organ literature. At the same time, two of the five mixtures have the German brilliance needed to add clarity to the tutti sound. The clearly speaking Positive is ideal for Baroque music, while many individual stops have unique sonorous beauty of their own.
(organ history and article courtesy of Washington DC AGO)
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