Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ

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The Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ

The Anna Catharine Grace Memorial Pipe Organ (Noack Organ Co., Opus 164) is a a three-manual, 75-rank pipe organ built for downtown Birmingham's Cathedral of St Paul in 2021.

The instrument replaced the 4-manual, 55-rank M.P. Möller Organ Co. Opus 11682 which had been installed in the nave gallery in 1986. Problems with that instrument had become noticeable by the early 1990s, but by then the Möller Organ Co. had undergone bankruptcy liquidation, nullifying its warranty contracts.

The cathedral began raising funds to rebuild parts of the organ in 2013, but that project was set aside while the exterior of the church building was conserved and restored. Long-time benefactor Anna Catharine Grace died in 2015 and bequeathed her estate to the sacred music program at St Paul's. That bequest prompted the cathedral to plan for a newly-built organ rather than a rebuilding project. Highly impressed by the company's newly-installed organ at St Peter's on Capitol Hill Catholic Church in Washington D.C., the cathedral signed a contract with the Noack Organ Co. of Georgetown, Massachusetts in 2019.

Though designed to be "eclectic" (suited to many styles of organ repertoire), the French style was selected for the instrument's basic voicing because it would suit the cathedral's "Old World" acoustics, and because it would distinguish St Paul's from the preponderance of church organs in the region. Along with the new stops, Noack re-used the pedal sub-bass and 32' bassoon from the former Möller organ.

French organ builder Bertrand Cattiaux worked with Nami Hamada to voice the organ, with a number of stops inspired directly by the organ at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The new instrument remains capable of the "heroic" Möller sound, while also having improved dynamic range to better accompany vocal performance. Another benefit of the redesigned organ is that the tallest pipes were moved to the outer cases, providing a better view from the interior of the stained glass window on the southeast facade.

Installation of the new organ began in spring 2021 and was completed that December. It was blessed by Bishop Steven Raica on December 8. A dedicatory recital was performed by Nathan Laube on January 9, 2022.


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