The Salmen Organ represents a time-honored principal of organ building: the reuse of existing materials in an environmentally and musically sound manner.
In the 1950’s when the present Zion Lutheran Church building was constructed, a new pipe organ was built by The Reuter Organ Company, Lawrence, Kansas. Limited musical design, poor placement and less than adequate serviceability necessitated consideration for renovation of the Reuter. When the Zion organ committee began researching possibilities for redesigning and renovating the Reuter organ, the newly rebuilt and expanded Reuter in St. Matthew’s Lutheran, Worthington, Minnesota attracted their attention as its installation solved many inherent musical and mechanical constraints.
With the original instrument confined to speak from a 10’ by 13’ space in the base of the tower off of the balcony, a radical approach for renovation was required. The balcony was rebuilt and expanded to accommodate a growing musical program and a piano as well as to provide suitable space to place the new pipes and windchests of the Great organ. This placement was favored as the Great is primarily employed to lead the congregation in song. By locating the pipework on the central axis of the sanctuary and in close proximity to the congregation, the pipework could be voiced to explore the maximum color and articulation required to properly support the congregation. Portions of the original Reuter were rebuilt with many new sets of pipes incorporated to form the Swell organ. This division of the organ is in the original organ location and serves to primarily support the choir as well as to provide the solo voices of the organ.
During the organ renovation modern organ building techniques and technologies were utilized. New manual keyboards with bone surfaced naturals and rosewood sharps were crafted along with a new pedal clavier. The console was fitted with electrically operated tilting tablets controlled by a microprocessor based switching and memory system. Multiple combination memory levels, MIDI interface, transposer and digital record/playback are now standard items. A fiber optic cable links the console to the organ.
The tonal design and layout of the organ is by David R. Salmen. Working with David on the rebuilding and installation of the organ were Mark Langdon, and Doug & Suzi McCord. Roger Banks assisted with the tonal finishing. The balcony design and casework are by Tom Patzer and Patzer Woodworking, with construction work and oak flooring by Chuck Heisinger. Electrical work was by John Jerke. Many members of Zion gave of their time in site preparation and cleaning.
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