OPUS 2084 - Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati OH
Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church is a congregation that was founded in 1893 on the present day William Howard Taft Road near the University of Cincinnati. Its current church, the interior of which is a most glorious example of interior joinery, was built in 1928. It seats 350. The music director, Chris Miller, leads a large music program that includes a senior choir of 45, a world music ensemble, and the Musica Aantiqua of Cincinnati. At the time of the installation of the organ, the organist was Charles Charles. The chairman of the organ committee was John Amidon.
The organs of Mt. Auburn have been very diverse. They began with an instrument built by Hook and Hastings. This organ was designed and built at the time of the construction of the current church. The origin of the casework design is uncertain. Records are inconclusive as to whether it was designed by Hook and Hastings or by the church architect. The second organ at Mt. Auburn was a Wurlitzer theater organ. It was built in 1942. It made use of the existing spaces for the organ and the original casework.
The new Holtkamp organ was completed in 2001. It is an instrument of 24 stops with three extensions, and 28 ranks. It uses the existing spaces for the organ and the original casework. The organ is split on either side of the chancel. The Great and the Pedal C side are to the left. The Swell and the Pedal C# side are to the right.
The interior of the church is a wonder to behold. The wood work is of a caliber that does not exist in the world today. The windows perfectly compliment the wood interior. It is the wood interior which is the cause of the acoustical challenges in this wonderful church. The wood joinery of the church interior is a series of panels, planks, and moldings that are all cut and fit together into an extraordinary wood puzzle. Unfortunately, every joint in the wood interior is a miniature sound trap. The result is an acoustic that is clear and bright, but lacking in the warmth that results from a generous fundamental response. In response to these challenges the scales of the organ were increased from CCC to C. This resulted in a warmth and fullness of organ sound throughout the sanctuary. On a more delicate side, the Swell box is a double walled construction. The expression shades are a double overlapping design. This results in the ability to reduce the volume of the Swell to a mere whisper. The overall effect of the organ is one in which there are full ensembles for leading congregational song, dynamic flexibility for accompanying the choir, excellent balance of ensembles, and a very wide range of timber.
The organ was installed in November 2001 and dedicated throughout 2002 in a series of recitals and concerts for choir and organ.