The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea historically has made an effort to ensure that its music is of the highest quality. We at Bethesda-by-the-Sea consider the many concerts and services which take place beyond the scope of the regular Sunday morning worship to be a very real form of outreach to the community. A fine, flexible instrument—tonally capable of enlivening widely-varied styles of music, both choral and instrumental—makes such outreach possible.
From the time Bethesda’s “third” building was built, critical observations had been made regarding the acoustical qualities of the building. It is built in the architectural style of English churches, cathedrals, and collegiate chapels, where the sound of the organ and choir is meant to be enhanced and refined by the room itself. It has often been said that the most important stop on any organ is the building, so it was indeed fortunate that a generous gift from an anonymous parishioner permitted two acoustical studies to be done in preparation for the new organ.
The firm of Austin Organs, Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut, at the time one of America’s oldest and most distinguished builders, was selected as the builder. They designated our new instrument as their Opus 2777.
The Gallery portion of the organ was installed in the fall of 1999 and was ready just in time for Christmas celebrations that year. At a national conference of The Association of Anglican Musicians held in June 2000, with Bethesda as the host church, the organ was hailed by professional musicians as a “world class” instrument. The reaction of the parish and of the community at large has been just as rewarding!
Due to careful design and planning—and the generosity of many—Bethesda-by-the-Sea is the home of a magnificent instrument which may be numbered among the largest and finest in the south. The instrument comprises 109 ranks, with over 6,000 pipes.
While our organ, from a tonal point of view, is decidedly English in character, it plays the vast expanse of organ literature superbly. It also is an outstanding accompanimental instrument for both choral and instrumental ensembles. Perhaps most important of all, the organ—with its very real sensation of “surround sound”— encourages vigorous singing, as the congregation lifts its voice in praise to the Almighty!
Click here to view the organ specifications.
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