Pipe organ showcased at Suffolk Christian

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

People crossing the threshold of Suffolk Christian Church have been awed and inspired by the sounds emanating from the handcrafted pipe organ that has graced the sanctuary since 1893.

On Sunday, sounds from the organ

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– which gone undergone a recent $400,000 renovation – will once again resonate through the church. The church is hosting at free concert to showcase the instrument at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Dee Hill, chairman of the organ renovation committee, said the pipe organ concert and demonstration will begin at 4 p.m. with two organists of distinction lending their talents to this significant event: Marjorie Setnicky, organist and director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Lee Hendricks, who has more than 25 years experience playing for two churches in Norfolk.

Setnicky has performed through Hampton Roads, including four times as part of the Organ Swell Series.

Hendricks is the organist and choral accompanist at Park Place Baptist Church in Norfolk. Prior to that, he spent 25 years as organist and director of music for Trinity Lutheran Church of Norfolk. Also, Hendricks was also involved in the tonal finishing of the rebuilt organ at Suffolk Christian.

This event has been almost four years in the making, according to the Rev. Michael D. Halley, pastor of Suffolk Christian.

&uot;But, it has been a labor of pure love on the part of a very dedicated music committee and many others, including our Director of Music, E. Talmadge Darden who expended countless hours in this project,&uot; said the pastor. &uot;The organ has been completely rebuilt by A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company.

&uot;We have what amounts to a brand new organ built back to the Victorian specifications of when it was first installed. We expanded it capabilities and this concert is designed to showcase just what it can do.&uot;

When the Schlueter company totally removed the pipe organ from the sanctuary to do the work, it was the first time in 108 years the instrument had left the church.

Mary N. Huber, the organist at Suffolk Christian, said the renovations have greatly increased the capabilities of the organ. It has grown to include three full-sized keyboards and now has 27 rows of pipes, Huber said.

&uot;The sound has increased tremendously,&uot; Huber said. &uot;We’ve tried to maintain the same quality of tones the old organ had and at the same time, increase the sound.

&uot;I’ve been the organist at the church for 15 years and the music is my passion,&uot; she continued. &uot;Having the organ to play has been a side benefit in the past. Now, I think I’m certainly going to enjoy playing the renovated organ.&uot;

Hill, chairman of the music committee for the pipe organ renovation, said the experience has been wonderful.

&uot;It took us about eight months just to find the company to do the renovations,&uot; said Hill. &uot;Our organ had gotten to the point where when Mary hit a note… well, it didn’t do anything.

&uot;So, we developed an organ fund and because people love the organ so much, they were generous in their giving. Now, we are ready to share the beautiful sounds with everyone.&uot;

The organ at Suffolk Christian was originally built by the Jardine Company, whose founder, George Jardine, came to America in 1837 from England. It was installed at a cost of $3,500, which translates to about $60,000 in today’s dollars.