First Presbyterian, Minot, ND

The Salmen Organ

In 1954, following the completion of the present First Presbyterian Church building, a modest 3 manual Moller pipe organ of 24 ranks was installed by Eugene Doutt. The organ contained preparations for additional stops that were never realized. In 1983, discussions began between First Presbyterian and David Salmen regarding the completion and enhancement of this organ as well as the need to maintain its mechanical reliability. Driven by the need to insulate the exterior walls of the organ chamber, a total redesign of the instrument was eventually explored.organ console.JPG

In 1999 a contract was signed with the Salmen Organ Company of South Dakota to build essentially a new pipe organ for First Presbyterian Church. Following a centuries old tradition in organbuilding whereby existing materials are often incorporated into new instruments, the Salmen Organ Company retained 12 ranks of pipework, the windchests of the Pedal division, the expression shutters of the Swell and Choir, chimes and the blower and static reservoir. Following the practice of the re-use of existing materials in an environmentally and musically sound manner, an organ was built at a fraction of the cost of a totally new instrument.

All mechanisms of the organ are new with electro-pneumatic style pitman and unit windchests chosen for their unique musical value and exceptional reliability and longevity. Twenty-five new ranks of pipes were crafted giving the organ a total of 37 ranks over 3 manuals and pedal. Organ Supply Industries built the new walnut console, along with the pipework and windchests. The console features keyboards with bone surfaced natural keys and rosewood sharps. An electrically adjustable bench is included for the convenience of the organists. A microprocessor based switching and memory system by Matters, Inc. is utilized. This control system features a fiber optic connection between the console and pipe chambers, up to 256 levels of combination memory, MIDI interface, transposer and digital record/playback system.

Musically the instrument is generously scaled and voiced giving the organ a great depth of tone and a wealth of color while remaining transparent. The organ’s reed stops are of particular note with the Clarinet, Oboe and Trompette being quite orchestral in nature along with the Harmonic Flute and Open Flute. The Principal choruses are designed in a classic manner. Crowning the full organ is a Festival Trumpet. This stop is of a hooded design and is voiced on quite heavy wind.

In the pedal division, the 16’ Christensen Oktav provides the foundation for the entire pipe organ. These 12 open wood pipes are an extension of the 8’ Oktav and are built of yellow pine. The deep bass tones of these pipes serve to underpin every other stop in the organ. The pipes were given to First Presbyterian as a memorial by the builder and named for the late chairman of the organ restoration committee, Ralph A. Christensen. For many years the builder had the good fortune to work with Mr. Christensen in the planning of the new organ. Unfortunately, Mr. Christensen did not live to celebrate the organ’s completion.

It is a fitting tribute to the ministry of Ralph Christensen that the 16’ Christensen Oktav is at home in the new organ. The life of Mr. Christensen in his service to First Presbyterian Church and the city of Minot certainly exemplified a firm foundation upon which others were inspired to build.

Working with David Salmen in the installation of the organ were: Roger Banks, Kris Harris, William Harris, Mark Langdon, and Doug McCord with assistance from Gary Stenehjem. Roger Banks and David Salmen were responsible for the tonal finishing of the organ. Special appreciation is extended to the staff of First Presbyterian along with the many church volunteers who assisted with the removal of the previous organ and hoisting of the new instruments.

The Salmen Organ of First Presbyterian is at home in Minot, joining the organ designed and installed nearly 10 years ago for First Lutheran Church. In early 2002 the Salmen Organ Company will be undertaking the renovation and enhancement of the organ for Vincent United Methodist Church also in Minot.

Construction Photo Gallery

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