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S4 - Pipe Organ

The installation of the 3 manual (keyboard) Votteler-Holtkamp-Sparling Pipe Organ, commenced in 1916, was completed for the celebration of Easter Sunday 1917. Installed by Henry Holtkamp and his crew, a renowned group of organ builders of the Symphonic Era from the Cleveland, Ohio area, the instrument is a great memorial to their skills and talents.  Sadly, the organ fell prey to the lower economic costs of maintaining an electronic instrument in the late 1970s.  Many churches of all denominations have similarly installed electronics only to find the electronic after a few years to be very unsatisfying.  The organ at St. Hedwig is comparable in size and grandeur to those great instruments installed at famous Detroit landmarks such as the Fox (intact and playable) and Fisher Theatres (removed to the Senate Theatre) or Orchestra Hall (removed). When our brothers and sisters originally built this Cathedral to our Lord, an equally fitting instrument was installed. Once the current restoration is complete, we once again shall have the resources of their beautiful instrument for the greater honor and glory of God.  

  Facts about the Votteler-Holtkamp-Sparling Organ:

  • Over 50 tablets (or switches) allow the organist to quickly control the resources of the 2900 + pipes in the organ.  
  • The organ is capable of producing a 32 ft pitch, which is at the threshold human hearing.  
  • There are sets of pipes imitating many instruments including Tubas, Clarinets, Oboes, Trumpets and even a Vox Humana (female choir sound).  
  • The organ contains a set of Diaphones, identical to Wurlitzer’s and the foghorns formerly used in lighthouses.  
  • This organ was built ahead of its time with many useful features and a solid, lasting tonal design.
Thanks to Michael Koprowicz, Sunday Organist for the above information.