OPUS 2083 - Trinity Episcopal Church, Clarksville TN
The story of Trinity Episcopal Church is one of tragedy, and faith, inspiration and determination. In the fall of 1999, Clarksville was hit by a devastating tornado. In a matter of minutes it destroyed a quarter of all the buildings in its center city. Numbered in these buildings are nearly half of the historic buildings which are the destination of thousands of tourists every year. When the tornado hit Trinity Episcopal Church its actions were simple and devastating. It lifted the roof of the church from its walls, and then dropped in to the church floor, destroying everything in its path. When I first visited Trinity, I was not prepared for what I saw. The doors were boarded up. The windows were open with birds flying in ad out at will. Upon entering the church I looked up ad saw no roof. I looked around and saw only bare walls, cracked plaster, dust, plywood sheeting used to cover large holes in the floor. During our discussions I learned that the church was in the midst of a total rebuilding of the church. The project was being lead by Arnold of Arnold and company, architect and member of the church. As part of this rebuilding, they were to include a new pipe organ.
For the organ project the first order of business was choosing a suitable location for the pipe organ. The church architecture was such that a pipe organ could not be placed in the center of the chancel. This left us two alternate choices. There are transepts o either side of the chancel. Each transept has an opening that faces the congregation and an opening that speaks across the chancel to the other transept. It was decided that the organ would be placed in the left transept. The sacristy would be placed in the base of the left transept. The choir and console would be placed in the right transept. This allowed us the following placement of divisions: The Great is placed in the transept opening that faced the congregation. The Swell and Choir are placed behind the Great and in a position that allows their sound to project through the transept opening that faces the congregation and through the transept opening that faces the opposite transept that houses the choir and console. Both the Swell and Choir were equipped with two sets of expression shades: one on the side facing the congregation and one on the side facing the choir. This arrangement provides the most effective projection of sound to both the congregation and the choir.
The selection of stops was a challenging process. The committee wanted a three manual instrument. While the budget allowed for three manuals, the space available was such that we had to pick stops very carefully. Our criteria in making these choices were based on the fact that the pipe organ’s primary function is leading the congregation and accompanying the choir.